The Enneagram Type 9 – the Mediator
Discussion with Dottie Baynham, Cate Parker, Sam Settle
Moderated by Iain McNay
Iain: Hello. And welcome again to conscious.tv. I’m Iain McNay. And today we have another programme in our series about the enneagram. This time we’re talking with some type 9s. And we have three type 9s in the studio. We have Dottie, Sam, and Cate. We’re going to start with you Dottie, if you could just tell us a little bit about the enneagram for people that don’t know much about it and who’re watching this programme. What is the enneagram?
Dottie: OK. I think the enneagram is one of these things that is out there and open for anyone really to interpret in whatever way they choose. But as I understand it, say, when we’re born - and maybe [even] before we’re born, when we’re still in the womb - we start interacting with our environment and in that interaction with our environment we start building up patterns of behaviour, building up programmes. Over time these programmes will develop into what we think we are, who we think we are. So our personality is mainly developed through our interaction with the environment. What the enneagram does, it offers a model, which has nine basic personality types.
Iain: So everybody has to be one of these nine pretty much?
Dottie: Everyone is basically one of these nine, but the other thing about the enneagram is that the symbol of the enneagram is a circle and so there can be movement within that circle. Although you are basically one type, there is movement within the circle; you are not just defined by a list of, “This is who you are”, there is movement within that circle.
Iain: So in the other types we would also find part of ourselves, it’s just that with you guys you’re mainly type 9…
Dottie: Mainly type 9 and I think when we talk a bit more about the 9, looking at what the driver is behind the 9 behaviour, why the 9 behaviour is as it is… that to me is fundamental: finding what the driver is, what it is that makes you be the 9 and what’s driving that personality. So through studying the enneagram hopefully you find your type. For some people it’s really easy. Certainly for me, as soon as I read the [description of] 9, I knew that was me. Some people have no idea and it takes them time to actually [find their type]. They really need to visit all the different types to find out which one actually fits most comfortably for them and one of the common things that you feel when you first find your type in the emmeagram is – some people say – “I thought everybody felt like me.” And they find out that they don’t. Or completely the opposite, they realise that, “Some people feel like me, but actually some people feel completely different to me”. And that understanding of not just yourself, but getting that understanding about other people as well, is really helpful in your life. But I find the enneagram does not define you. I think some people see it as something that can actually give you a definition: “You are a 9”. I don’t think the enneagram defines you; you find how much you have defined yourself and at the same time, you find how much you have defined other people and that gives you more compassion and understanding both for yourself and actually for others too.
Iain: So it can help in your relationships with other people, can’t it?
Dottie: Very much so. Very much so. Yes. So initially it’s, “This is all about me” and it’s fascinating, but then you learn about how other people are different and you understand what’s driving them and that leads to much-improved relationships.
Iain: Because if you understand someone else better, then you can to some extent put yourself in their shoes and you realise why they are the way they are and the way they are with you.
Dottie: Yes, yes. But I see the enneagram as… you can take it at whatever level you want. It can be a self-development, self-awareness tool. For me, as I’ve gone through it, is more about the spiritual aspect and actually, the potential for transformation.
Iain: OK. So we’ll come on to that later, the potential; the expansion [of the] potential. So, how did you first hear about the enneagram, Sam?
Sam: I was living in Thailand in a Buddhist monastery, actually as a monk, and we were introduced to it there, as a tool for learning more about ourselves and we used it as a community. Well, some of us were more into it than others… just to look at our interactions with each other and how we could improve our interactions, very, very helpful and complementary with the meditation and study of the Buddhist teachings as well. I’ve used it, studied it fairly… I don’t want to say intensely, but studied it quite a bit and used it a bit there, there and then eventually came to England and did a course with Judith Priest and Tim Luckcock. And in my marriage it’s been very useful, in my relationship with my wife who’s a type 4, just being able to unpick why things might be going wrong and see how I’m contributing to the dysfunction, to the odd dynamic. That’s a very, very useful tool.
Iain: So when you were in the Buddhist monastery were you interacting with the other monks there and discussing your types?
Sam: Yes, both formally sometimes in workshops, but also as we were interested in it, we would use it a bit to look at the dynamics.
Iain: The image I have of Buddhist monks is that they keep themselves very much to themselves. They meditate a lot and don’t speak much, but obviously this was quite a modern monastery in one way; was it?
Sam: Yeah, I mean the monk who introduced it to us, Santikaro, is now in America and not a monk anymore either. He saw it as a tool for spiritual development and I remember him saying once that actually this may be as useful as meditation and as useful as the Buddhist teachings; but definitely as a complementary thing, very helpful.
Iain: Because when you’re meditating for long periods a day then you can get very lost, can’t you? Kind of in your inner world and this must give more of a perspective.
Sam: Yeah. And as solitary and relatively quiet as we were, we still came together to do a bit of work and around mealtimes and projects outside. So, very useful.
Iain: Cate, I know you’ve been working with the enneagram for a long time now as part of the school you’re in, I think for… almost 20 years. So how do you find you’ve changed during that time using the information you’ve learnt about the enneagram?
Cate: Well, you’ll notice I’m not going to answer your question directly first because listening to what you asked Sam, I realised the relief of reading about the enneagram and feeling that somebody really understood what it felt like inside. It was I think “Facets of Unity” written by Hameed (or A. H. Almaas). How he understood the sense of deficiency and lack in a way, was just such a huge relief. And recognising a lot of the traits I have - like to go towards the other more than thinking of myself - because that’s a way of not feeling the emptiness; and being fascinated by other people… that’s how I felt I was relating to other people.
Iain: So what do you mean by “Not feeling the emptiness”?
Cate: I think what I’m learning – and it’s still in process – is that going towards others is my nature in a way, but not negating myself at the same time. And what is difficult for me is to stay with myself when I’m with another, and to really feel into myself. That’s what I find difficult.
Iain: OK, so you lose your own - kind of - not agenda so much, but your own desire or what you would like to do when you are with somebody else. You get pulled into their…
Cate: I don’t know what desire is. I mean I just lose that…I always remember the first time that I really noticed how much I did this. I was driving – this was years ago – driving with somebody who I was a bit frightened of actually – she was an 8 –it was [at a time] when we were running a centre and I was driving her along and as usual asking her a mass of questions, which was very interesting and she suddenly said, “And what about you?” I couldn’t get out of the car and escape this question and it was terrifying. So the focus on myself is… frightening in a way and I’m getting much better at staying…
Iain: So it’s frightening because it’s unfamiliar and you don’t know how to deal with it?
Cate: I suppose for a long time it was so difficult to feel myself and the only way I could feel filled, was by sort of going out towards the other and I think even before I’d done any spiritual work, I always remember my biggest fear was to be in solitary confinement and I’ve thought “What am I going to do if I’ve just got me?” So I think what’s helping more and more, is the work I’ve done with Hameed - I mean in the Diamond Approach - and also more recently doing meditation with Dan Brown - Pointing The Way. Because before in meditation I would just sit and come to the most wonderful spacious place, very smooth, very calming and [now] having to be more alert is really helping me.
Iain: OK. So taking that to you, Sam, that [same] issue… you were in a monastery where you were very much encouraged to stay with your process. Were you able to develop what was right for Sam, when you were given that space?
Sam: Possibly a bit. I think I started to wake up to the fact that it was more comfortable for me to sort of stay in that spaciousness as you called it. I remember once over a period, realising that there was this great feeling of inner peacefulness, a sort of an inner smile and for a long time I mistook that as… what it’s all about and actually for me - I think for most 9s - it’s not about that, it’s about knowing what I actually want, knowing my agenda, as you put it, when I’m with other people and being able to act on that and not feeling like I just have to put it all aside and go with what the other person wants. Really knowing in the first place and then acting on it, acting on what I feel.
Iain: So, Dottie, what are the other factors people might want to look for, if they think they might be a type 9, if they’re watching this programme? What are the clues?
Dottie: OK. If I can describe where I think the driver of the 9 is – and it’s looking at the essence of the being of the 9 in a sense, again going back to birth or maybe before birth. [there is] the belief that we are all loved unconditionally; there’s this sense of everyone being loved and being in a state of unity, almost like a non-duality. So that’s the perfect essence that we move further and further away from, as we develop our personality.
Iain: Well, we move further away, because that’s the way the rest of the world is. Is that right?
Dottie: Yes, because that’s what we learn and that’s how our life is. You start off being educated, being domesticated by your parents; you pick up all the societal beliefs and that’s who you think you are. But underneath it, this desire for the sense of being loved and unity is still there. So what the 9 then does is, try and recreate what that feels like, that sense of love and unity and kindness, they try and recreate that in the way they live their lives. So they will do anything to avoid conflict. They make themselves invisible because that gives everybody else space and this is how they are trying to create that love, but it all goes a bit wonky because the 9 goes into the state of being asleep to themselves as it’s described: this not knowing what I think, not knowing what I want, not knowing what I feel, but finding it so easy to tune into someone else. Nines merge with other people. You know what other people are thinking. You know what they need before they do.
Iain: They’re [Cate and Sam] both nodding.
Dottie: So you do it. You find you’re then, to some extent, almost living vicariously because you’re living through somebody else. So recognising that you’re not actually returning to that wonderful initial state; you’re making a sort of false copy of it. And it’s recognising that and then going “OK, this is who I really am.” And starting to wake up to who you are, to recognise when you do fall asleep and personally at times, when I first discovered the enneagram, I realised that if I’d got something challenging to do, I would actually start feeling really, really tired. And I could almost fall asleep and [say] “I’m so tired, I have to go and lie down”, and realise [instead that] I’m not really tired, I’m just avoiding something here because it’s going to upset the sort of equilibrium that I’ve created for myself.
Iain: So it must be quite a shock when you realise that you’ve created this kind of false image.
Dottie: Absolutely. It’s a shock, but I think as Cate was saying – probably Sam as well – it’s a revelation that actually somebody else feels like this, it’s not just me. I’m not lazy, I’m not all these negative labels we put on ourselves. It’s not about being lazy, it’s about this lack of self-awareness. And to actually start to realise I can do something about it. I don’t have to fall asleep. When I first started meditating I would literally go to sleep.
Sam: Yeah, big problem.
Dottie: Yes, whether that’s particularly for 9s… I think it can be for anyone. But for 9s, yes, wonderful space. You can just sort of… it’s the duvet thing isn’t it? That’s a real 9, under the duvet.
Sam: What you were saying about just not knowing what you feel. I remember when I was little, people - my family - asking me, “What are you thinking, Sam? What are you feeling?” And being really frustrated because I couldn’t answer that because I didn’t know, and my wife, who’s a 4, she’s extremely in touch with her feelings and just can’t get that. “How come you can’t say what you’re feeling?” Yeah, that’s very typical. I think another thing that’s fairly typical is that - I speak for myself - you’re probably all enlightened or highly evolved, but 9s can spend a lot of energy dissipating anger and just spending a lot of energy not appearing angry. It’s a very powerful force.
Iain: You feel anger but you don’t really put it out there so people can recognise it. Is that what you’re saying?
Sam: Well, especially people who know you well do sense it coming off you, but I am not…
Iain: You hold it back.
Sam: Hold it back. There’s a dream I had once where a very dark character who I knew in the dream only came out at night. He wasn’t evil, but he was really strong and powerful. I went to meet him; he was scary. I woke up from that dream - I was writing my dreams down at this point - and wrote, “I must meet this character” and it was this…
Dottie: Almost like the shadow, of Jung, isn’t it? This aspect of yourself you don’t want to acknowledge.
Sam: Yes. And later I did meet him in a way, in something that happened about a week later in my life and I was able to express, for the first time, feeling very pinched between two people who I was very close to and I’d been pinched for years. One person would run the other person down with me and then the other person would do the same with the other and I felt very squeezed in the middle and I was tired of just understanding them and not expressing how I actually felt…and I was able to express that for the first time in 15 years and it was fantastic. It really shifted something in me and it also shifted something in the whole dynamic.
Iain: So when you say it was fantastic what was the feeling then?
Sam: I don’t have to hide any more. I don’t have to keep my feeling or my understanding of the situation to myself. What I say matters, what I feel matters and I can express that and it’s valid. And actually it’s essential in the functioning of my relationship with those other people.
Cate: I agree now that’s happening. But I remember the first few times. For me anger… my partner in particular used to say, “You’re angry.” I used to say, “I’m not angry.” Then five minutes later I jolly well am angry. But what happened for me the first few times I got angry, it was terrifying. I mean I didn’t feel that sense of… it was more like I totally destroyed them. The guilt afterwards and what I realised was, I only got angry when I was pushed. You know I could accommodate, accommodate, accommodate and then suddenly it was all too much. And so it came out in a very… I couldn’t believe it was me. And now I’m beginning to be able to do what you’ve [turning to Sam] done. But I don’t think anger for me is still easy.
Sam: It’s not easy for me either and I hate it, really…
Dottie: There’s anger and there’s losing your temper, isn’t there? So actually being able to say “You’re making me really angry”.
Cate: Exactly. It’s very different to – sort of brrrr – that it’s sort of counting out.
Dottie: I find that 9s, because we’re so accommodating, people think that’s the way we are and they can go on doing it, so if they push you and push you and push you and certainly take advantage of your good nature, that’s when you can go into this passive-aggressive and the aggressive starts to come out and also, I don’t know if you guys are the same, but you can be really, really stubborn. People think you’re so easygoing, then all of a sudden you’ll just dig your heels in and they won’t be able to move you.
Sam: Going slow and just pretending not to understand.
Iain: So I wrote down - from a couple of books - a few clues for people that might still not be clear whether they might be a type 9 or not. So I’ll just read them all through and you might want to sort of grunt or comment or something: Often feel in union with nature and people?
Iain: Making choices can be very difficult. We’ve kind of covered that. Hard to know what they want when they’re with other people. Again we’ve covered that really. This is a quote: “Others see me as peaceful but inside I often feel anxious”. That’s something you go along with?
Iain: OK. When there’s unpleasantness around me I just try to think about something else. Is that something you guys connect with?
Dottie: Yeah I think we’re quite into diversionary tactics… doing something else or thinking something else if we’re in a challenging situation. Just zone out.
Sam: Or losing yourself in detail of the work, or small, easy tasks instead of addressing the bigger stuff that might, in your mind, lead to conflict or lead to difference of opinions.
Iain: And then you get stubborn when you feel controlled?
Cate and Dottie: Yes.
Iain: Tend to put things off to the last minute, but usually get them done in the end?
Dottie: Yes, yes procrastination.
Iain: You’re all ticking the boxes there.
Sam: I don’t know if there’s anything on that list about… for me, I’ve noticed this paradox of wanting to avoid conflict, but in the attempt to avoid it, actually creating it. If I can think of an example… well, if I feel like, in a situation I have a difference of opinion, rather than just expressing that, I’ll agree with the other person, go along with them and decide to do something. Then down the road a few days or weeks I can’t sustain that position of theirs that I’ve taken up and so in the attempt to avoid conflict I’ve actually created it and it’s a pain!
Dottie: You’ve actually taken that into yourself in order to keep the peace, but the conflict has remained within you. That’s where you say you’ve actually generated conflict, it’s actually in you. They’re quite happy because you’re agreeing with them.
Sam: Then it blows up. “Why didn’t you say that?”!
Iain: But 9s are also known as the peacemakers as well so you obviously have this quality of being able to get together parties that are not getting on, and to help be the catalysts for peace.
Cate: Seeing both sides.
Dottie: Because it’s very easy to tune in to other people. We can pick up the vibe, if you like, about what’s going on and therefore, not in a manipulative way but actually, steer things to a more peaceful space. Because we can pick them up.
Iain: OK. So you’re really feeling how they feel and you can understand their mindsets and then somewhere also I presume appears a kind of clues of how you can bring them together more in common interest.
Dottie: Yes, You’re looking for a common ground. If you’ve got two people standing opposite you actually look for the common ground that everyone can stand in. It’s that sort of thing.
Iain: Well, that’s a great quality actually.
Dottie: Well we’ve said a lot of negative things about 9s, haven’t we? But there are lots of positive things about being a 9.
Iain: Well, I know with Sam, you actually work - I don’t know how much you want to talk about it now - for an organisation called the Prison Phoenix Trust, in fact you run the organisation in the UK which helps to teach meditation and yoga in prisons - to prisoners - so you must find quite a lot of conflict situations coming up. I presume you find your type 9 peacemaker ability helps in those situations.
Sam: I think in any situation where you’re leading or managing people yeah, it’s a great skill to have but the challenge is to not only try to go with that easy skill of tuning into what other people think, but knowing what you think and putting that into the equation. If you don’t have that then it’s difficult, so…
Iain: Swimming around without an anchor somehow, without that, aren’t you? You’ve got to find your own anchor.
Sam: Exactly, and know how you feel and what your take is.
Dottie: Does that take an effort on your part, Sam, to actually think, “OK, what is my stand here? So
it’s a conscious thing, it’s not an automatic thing, you have to know, OK, where am I?
Sam: It does take effort and one thing that helps me is to think at the beginning of each day or maybe the beginning of each week what is important to me because I know I’ll be hit with all kinds of other pulls from other people and situations arising and I can very easily get drawn off what is actually important to me. So yes, it takes effort, it’s not something that I can easily remember what’s important.
Iain: Yes, something else that I wrote down from my notes was that type 9s are often non-judgemental and accepting. Is that something you all feel you have?
Dottie: Yes, it’s all part of the same thing really. It’s actually trying to have this environment where everything is nice and there’s no conflict.
Cate: Then you feel much better. As long as everyone else is happy.
Iain: But if it’s genuinely non-judgemental that’s really quite a quality.
Dottie: Oh I think it’s genuinely non-judgemental. I think partly because you understand where the other person‘s coming from. You’re not judging them because you know there’s something that’s driving them.
Cate: As long as what Sam has just said is also in place. It really is truly so. It’s not a by-passing so that you don’t have to get into…
Dottie: Not avoiding.
Iain: And you’re also good listeners too? Is that right? You’re good listeners?
Sam: So they say [laughter]. People tend to tell us that we’re good listeners.
Iain: But do you enjoy listening to people?
Sam: It’s easy. It’s a way of making the situation feel harmonious. I’m not sure about the judgemental bit. I think that maybe it’s because I have a [type] 1 wing that I come across as judgemental sometimes… I don’t know. [To Cate and Dottie] Do you have that? Or do you genuinely feel not judgemental?
Cate: I distrust my non-judgementalness sometimes. You know, I feel that I’ve sacrificed truth for harmony if I really, really look at it. And I’m really trying to be absolutely more… [centred] and that means feeling myself more, to really know [what I feel].
Iain: Can you give a practical example about how, if you were more truthful to yourself, the situation may appear less harmonious?
Cate: The thing that comes up [happened] a long time ago… I lived running a small growth centre with two other people and they were together and I was the sort of… and sometimes it got pretty difficult. Now for me the whole thing was to keep things harmonious even if I could feel, I could see what was going wrong, it was more important not to rock the boat. My [type] 8 partner would come in and for him the whole thing was to see the truth and to see what was really happening and I used to get terrified of that; that my whole existence would sort of disappear if things were rocked and now I really see the moments that I have to stand and say, “This is what I feel.” I can do that more, but it’s still frightening because that tendency to want harmony and smoothing things over, particularly when I get very anxious [is there]. To [want things to] feel smooth and silky.
Iain: So, let’s talk more, Dottie, about the potential for the type 9. You talked in your introduction about the other ways in which the type 9 can move forward from let’s say the neurotic patterns we all learn when we’re quite young.
Dottie: From this whole set of programmes?
Dottie: I think the key thing - and using the enneagram as a tool - is awareness. If you’re aware of what your behaviour is, then you can actually start to do something about it.
Iain: Let’s keep it very basic, when you say “awareness”, for someone that’s watching who doesn’t know what awareness is, what does awareness mean to you?
Dottie: It’s like the story I was telling you about, when I have a challenge and I will feel sleepy. If I’m not aware that this is just a behaviour pattern kicking in – this is an avoidance, if you like. So having the awareness that this is a pattern of mine that I feel sleepy when I’m challenged, means I can go, “Ah! OK. I’ve clocked that. I’m aware of it.” And know that’s a pattern of behaviour. It’s when the behaviour is driving you and you recognise the behaviour is driving you, so something like the falling asleep is a classic one. So I think the first thing is awareness. Other ways towards…
Iain: And you’ve got to practise that really, haven’t you?
Dottie: You have.
Iain: It’s like a muscle that needs to be used.
Dottie: Yeah, it’s like Sam saying, when I said you have to consciously think, “OK, today this is what I am…” It doesn’t come automatically, but also in terms of potential… I’ve lost my train of thought now – what was I going to say?… That’s very 9ish…
Sam: I think we have a huge capacity to act and to act decisively and to carry other people along with us and that capacity to see where they are, to see what they’re feeling as you move forward a project, or decision is great and it’s perfectly possible to act and to come to bring your position forward.
Dottie: I think looking at the physicality, I mean, I think other enneagram programmes have explained how the enneagram types fall into ruled by the head, the heart or the gut. The 9 is ruled by the gut. Down here [indicates belly area] and that refers to how disconnected you are from your body, or how connected you are in your body and for 9’s the tendency has been to be disconnected from the body. So what’s important for 9’s is to get into their bodies, to actually physically be present and that may be through grounding exercises, it may be through doing physical exercise, going running or doing yoga, Tai Chi, Chi Gung. All these sort of things are really good to actually give the 9 the sense of being physically present.
Iain: So it’s taking them out of up here [demonstrates above head] bringing them down to ground.
Dottie: Yes, being physically present and that’s being down in the gut, which in yoga you call the Hara? And I can’t remember what it is in Chi Gung, but there’s a similar word for it. It’s this sense of being grounded, of being very physically present, and I think that’s really important in terms of developing the potential for the 9. And I’m sure there are lots of other modalities that help but fundamentally the enneagram gives you an understanding of where you are. I remember I was driving through London which is something very unfamiliar to me and I got completely lost. So I rang up a friend because I was going into that “eeuh!” sort of state and I said “Can you help me, I’m lost?” And he said “Where are you?” and I said “I’m lost! I don’t know where I am!” But what the enneagram can be… it’s a bit like having your satnav because what the enneagram says is, “This is where you are.” It gives you an understanding of where you are and it can guide you from where you are to where you want to be, but there will be different ways of getting there but the enneagram can be part of that process. There may be other modalities that you use in order to achieve that but at least the enneagram is there to show you where you are and how you can move forward. You can move out of this space of being inertia, like the oyster at the bottom of the sea that sort of sits there and the water washes round it. But it’s a nice thing I feel about the 9… you’re the oyster, but if there is that stimulation in there - it’s the grain of sand that stimulation - then the oyster will create a pearl because 9s are capable of achieving amazing things. We’re not all asleep, but you have to wake up in order to do it. And that’s what the enneagram…
Sam: I think for me the nice thing about… just to say that I don’t think it’s a steady linear progression upwards. I mean over just the last couple of months, there’ve been lots of ups and downs and the nice thing for me about connecting with a sense of self, or sense of identity, is that at the same time, that means my relationships to other people are richer. They’re more… I want to say “profound” but they’re richer, they’re more alive, and life in general is more alive because of that tuning in to oneself.
Iain: And how, practically, have you done that? How’s the grounding work for you, on a practical basis?
Sam: How do I do it? Communication with people who know me well. To think together, meditation – very, very useful – in raising or bringing awareness to what the internal processes or internal dialogue is and not shying away from conflict, not backing away and going to the usual modes of trying to avoid it or get out of it, to face difficulty.
Iain: It takes a degree of courage, doesn’t it? Would you say that was an issue for you, Cate? The courage you have to…
Cate: Definitely. And the other thing I was just thinking for me is, particularly when I get sort of overwhelmed, my tendency is not to do the most important thing. I’ll procrastinate, I’ll do everything else and just to really realise that and to sit down and think what is the most important thing and not to run away and do all the other things, but to just focus on what is really important and to face that. And I think for me it is so much about awareness and so much about really facing conflict and daring to say things that I didn’t use to dare to say and the aliveness that comes with that.
Iain: That must be quite enjoyable as well.
Cate: It is – hugely – but it’s at that moment almost like going back into my patterns or actually really staying there. I mean “focusing” to me is a word that I really, really need.
Dottie: That expression, “Where the attention goes, the energy follows”. If your attention is out here that’s where your energies go.
Cate: Yes. It used to be and still can be, when I’m sort of panicky, that people could follow what I’d done. Because I’ve done this, then suddenly I thought of something else, so left that not finished, and then done the next thing. … and to actually really finish something is…
Iain: In some of my homework I was reading and I want to show you these books at the end. I can’t claim to have read them all, but I was dipping in and out the last couple of days on type 9s in these books and the words “real action” came up quite a bit. So I don’t know if you want to talk about what “real action” is to you. Dotty, you seem to be fired up by this word. [Laughter]
Dottie: When I first came across it - when you first start learning the enneagram - this is what you’re meant to be doing: “real action” and you think well, what is it? To actually understand what “real action” is and it was actually Almaas - it’s a quote from Almaas explaining what real action is - real action is connected to being in your body, to be actually grounding yourself in the body. Real action is when you know what to do without actually having to go through a process of thinking. I’m not there yet because - as you’re studying through the 9 and as Sam was saying - I have to think at the beginning of the day, “This is what I’m going to do.” It’s still a thought process. We haven’t got to the stage of the knowing which is the right action that we’re working towards. Although having been working with it for a number of years, I’m now getting glimpses of that… I’m actually, “Ooh, I knew what to do and I did it!”
Sam: Without thinking.
Dottie: Without thinking!
Cate: It happens.
Dottie: It just happens. So I’m starting to find that I’m doing that more and when it happens you know, “Ah, that’s what that feels like.” So in a sense it’s easier to do it again because you know what it feels like.
Iain: It becomes familiar somehow.
Dottie: It becomes familiar because, yes, that’s what you’re working with, isn’t it, when you’re doing any sort of development is the negative if you like that has become familiar so I stick with that. So it’s actually then changing that, so that the positive becomes familiar. And then it becomes easy. So it’s going through that barrier that Cate was talking about - of the fear of making waves by saying what I want; the fear of saying “no” to somebody because [lowers voice to dramatic whisper] they might be angry with me. So going through that, and actually finding that the world doesn’t fall apart it’s OK, and then the more you do it the easier it becomes. It’s the same, isn’t it? And then you get the positive reinforcement of “That feels good!”
Cate: Particularly when you were talking about right action or real action… the more present I can be [the more] it happens. So there’s none of this…[procrastinating] I mean I can easily dip into that again, but somehow it is extraordinary how more present I am. It can just happen. I don’t have to go through all these procrastinating…
Dottie: I think the wonderful thing is when you’re looking at the other types in the enneagram that may be listening to us saying this and thinking, “I don’t feel like that at all. I have no problems making decisions.” And it’s recognising how different we are from other people, isn’t it?
Iain: I think that’s one of the great values of the enneagram. I know when I discovered my enneagram type it was really quite a relief that at least a ninth of the people around the world actually do function and feel maybe in a similar way to me, but I didn’t always realise that. I felt that maybe it was just me that was odd and different from other people, but when you realise that about 12% of the world’s population is roughly your type, 8% actually isn’t it, yeah… So how is it for people to be close to type 9s, do you think?
Sam: Frustrating probably a lot of the time because you can go along with what they want to do; the 9 will go along with what a partner or friend wants to do and then discover that actually the 9 doesn’t want to do that. So that’s frustrating, just not being able to know, really, what the 9 is feeling, is very hard.
Iain: So you tend to be, I guess - knowing both of your partners, they both seem to be quite opinionated, spirited people - so you’re drawn to people that are more in touch with their feelings at one level so that’s something that maybe attracts you to them, because they seem to be more assertive and in touch. Would you say that’s true?
Sam: I don’t know. I don’t know if there’s a better type, or types that 9s tend to be drawn towards. I can’t comment. I don’t know.
Iain: I wasn’t thinking so much about a particular type. It’s just knowing both of your partners, yours [to Cate] better than Sam’s, they just feel that they’re very… yours [to Sam] is very in touch with her feelings. Norman is, certainly…
Cate: [Laughs] Assertive!
Iain: Assertive, shall we say? Yes.
Cate: I think yes, because I always remember my father saying, “Why are all your friends much stronger than you?” And I never really thought about it. He said, “What is it?” and I think for me being with somebody who is really able to say what he thinks and stuff, does help me. I also feel very safe because I know exactly where he is... there’s a sort of honesty about it.
Sam: That’s certainly true for me. I appreciate knowing exactly where…
Cate: Where you are.
Iain: Yeah. And that’s very useful for a peacemaker to know exactly where one person is…
Sam: Yeah. And that uncertainty that I have is taken away by the certainty of the other person.
Cate: I think what you say is very interesting actually, because I think people come towards 9s because I mean, I always think I’m boringly unthreatening. But then probably with other people there’s this incredible frustration.
Sam: Who are you? Where’s the person? What are you actually? Who’s there? That’s what I fear.
Dottie: My first husband used to get really, really cross with me because he’d say, “Well, what do you want to do?” I’d say, “I don’t mind, what do you want to do?” And actually I think one of the things somebody said [was] “What’s good for 9s is that you give them a choice. If you say, “What do you want to do? You can do anything”, it’s like, “I’ve no idea.” But if you say, “Would you like to go swimming, horse-riding or mountain climbing?” They’ll go, “Oh, I think we’ll go swimming!” So when you’re given a choice it’s much easier.” Somebody’s actually giving you something to choose between, rather than…“Ooh that’s just all too much to have to choose.” But yeah, he used to get really angry with me; I think he was an 8. But I became more and more invisible. You’ve come through your relationship and you’ve found your strengths, but that marriage ended because I’d almost disappeared. I really had. Because he was very strong and I just gave in.
Sam: I think it’s probably mind-boggling to some other types, that 9s just don’t have a sense of identity, they don’t have a strong sense of self, it’s just…
Dottie: It’s the unity, isn’t it? If you think about duality and non-duality the 9s want this sense of non-duality. That is complete unity and a loss of individuality to a degree, isn’t it? If that’s part of us, then you can see how you’ve lost that little bit that’s ‘me’ somehow. Does that make sense?
Sam: It does. I mean the whole non-duality thing is very interesting. How does a person who’s a 9 fit into that non-duality? How does a strong sense of self exist at the same time as this non-dual reality? That’s what I’m trying to crack.
Dottie: You know the Rumi one where he says – it’s a little poem – that you’re the drop of rainwater and the drop of water falls into the ocean, so it becomes part of the ocean but is also still that drop and that’s the bit that sort of fries your brain, isn’t it? That you are connected, but you are also connected and separate at the same time. That’s what’s tricky.
Iain: I’ve brought a pile of books here and I’m just going to show some of these to the camera. We’ve not quite finished just yet. We’ve got a few minutes yet. But I know this book, “The Enneagram Made Easy” which is one of my favourites. I know you said you also enjoyed it, Sam. It really is for someone who doesn’t know much about the enneagram and it has some cartoons in there and very simple questions and I think to find your enneagram type it’s probably one of the best starting points. It doesn’t go into a great deal of depth but certainly it’s a great starter. And then I’ve brought along two books by Sandra Maitri about the enneagram. One is “The Enneagram of Passions and Virtues”, and “The Spiritual Dimension of the Enneagram” these both very much take more the - what Dottie was talking about at the beginning - the spiritual side of it, the bigger picture, we’ve touched on that towards the end, the potential if you like. And you also mentioned non-duality, how it fits in with non-duality. So these two books - if you know your type and you want to learn more - are probably very good ones to further your exploration. And there’s the book that I think Cate referred to, A H Almaas, “Facets of Unity”, which in a way goes further than Sandra Maitri’s books… much more detail on the spiritual side and the bigger picture. And this one that I haven’t read but I hear is quite good, “The Wisdom of the Enneagram: The Complete Guide to Psychological and Spiritual Growth for the Nine Personality Types” by Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson. So there are a few books there. We have about three minutes left. Any last little comments you want to make?
Dottie: Can I ask you a question? What do you think about 9s, having had this talk?
Iain: Well, it was very interesting about how I felt during the interview because usually I’m quite assertive in these programmes. I try not to be. I try and let them flow. But I felt my assertiveness going in the background. I was becoming 9-type [laughter]
Dottie: You’re entering the 9 energy!
Iain: I thought that was very interesting how you guys had influenced a part of me which, of course, as we were saying at the beginning, we all have each type in us, it’s just one type is predominant, and I was feeling very 9ish… “Shall I ask them this?” “Shall I go there?” And I wasn’t quite sure!” [General laughter]
Dottie: Well that’s a wonderful expression of what 9ishness can be like, isn’t it?
Iain: Yes, it’s good because I think very much one of the aims of this series we’re doing on the enneagram – the 9 different types – isn’t to come up with all the right descriptions and the right answers, it’s to give viewers a feel for these types and it is very much sometimes the feeling of something that feels right, and I think that came across very well here.
Iain: So, we have about two minutes. Any words of wisdom from the other side of the bench there?
Cate: It just makes me think when you say that how easy it is to be with other 9s in a way. And I always remember ages ago there were four of us in a car leaving a retreat and the car obviously wasn’t… smoke was coming out and goodness knows what, and two people immediately - I think there was an 8 and a 6 - got out of the car and said, “We can’t go with you!” The driver was a 9 and I was a 9 and we decided to just go and we had - it wasn’t terrible - we had such fun. Oh well, this is what’s happening. So let’s go along with it and I just was suddenly thinking when you said you’d become more 9ish that …
Dottie: Do you sometimes find that - oh sorry, I might be wandering somewhere else - when you’re with a group of 9s you’re not rying to be anything else? Do you sometimes find it tiring if you’re with a lot of people because you’re sort of holding the space for everybody and you… eeuh!
Cate: Well, I suppose what I feel is… I like being with people enormously, but it’s very relaxing if you let them all get on with it and you’re still sort of part of it all without…
Sam: ...having to do anything.
Iain: OK, I think we’re going to finish on that note. Really appreciate the three of you coming in to be on conscious tv and share your “9ishness” with the world. And [to camera] thank you again for watching conscious tv and do look out for the other programmes in this enneagram series. We’ve done most of them now but we’ll be finishing them off fairly soon.
Thank you, and goodbye.
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