Emotional Traps of the 9 Enneagram Types

In a lot of ways, you can think of the Enneagram as a study of emotional traps as much as you can think of it as a personality typing system. It explores how our fears define us, how those fears overlap with each other, and it gives us a roadmap to outgrow them.

And it works so well because the zoomed out, conceptual perspective of the system is just as useful as the focused aspects. You can use it to understand yourself better, and when you apply it to your day to day live it resonates just as deeply.

So I decided to write my own list of emotional "traps" for each type that I've seen others get caught in, or have been caught in myself. A "trap" is basically a mental construct that you use to prevent yourself from being fully aware of your fear.

We're more prone to getting caught in traps of our own type, but you experience emotions related to each type and hence could get caught in any of them, so looking through the whole list could be helpful!

Type 1 Traps

  • Defending an opinion before you get all the relevant information

  • Acting based on precedent, rather than responding to your feelings in the moment

  • Believing your thoughts and judgements about others are always based in objective truth

  • Thinking you know what's best for people regardless of how well you know them

  • Attaching to what "should" be, discarding reality as it is in the process

Type 2 Traps

Believing that others expect you to help them

Taking actions to help others, and assuming they will do the same for you in return

Feeling slighted/victimized when others don't fulfill your unspoken expectations of them

Accepting all love directed at you, no matter what else is attached to it

Believing that earning love is the key to solving problems in your life that are not actually related to it

Type 3 Traps

Feeling obligated to be what others want you to be, even when you want to do something else

Over-focusing on your goals, using them to block out unwanted feelings

Deeply believing that inner peace relies on achievement in the external world

Willing to do things you don't agree with in exchange for praise, status, or other "rewards" you desire

Creating situations where they have a lot probability of success in order to make the potential achievement feel greater, often ignoring the risks involved

Type 4 Traps

Believing the answer to every problem is locked within yourself

Crafting a self image rather than expressing what your soul truly wants

Dreaming of a idealized yet simplistic version of self, and hence inherently rejecting your true self

Seeking validation for your fantasies, you may allow people into your life you don't really want there

Believing that living up to an image you have of yourself is the key to solve problems that are not necessarily related to it

Type 5 Traps

Forgetting to account for yourself and your needs when thinking through an issue

Detaching from the world, over-focusing on ideas and forgetting the present

Building a view of the world based on your own thoughts rather than concrete observation

Viewing you mind as separate from your body, you may habitually neglect warning signals from your body and decline into poor health

Believing you have to understand something fully to gain any value from it

Type 6 Traps

Identifying potential issues and feeling as if they're happening to you in the here and now

Ejecting individuals from your group out of fear that others will harm you for being associated with them

Overestimating the power others have over you, detaching from your own personal power

Detaching from personal responsibility, you may allow yourself to decline in physical health to spite those you assign responsibility for your well being

Detaching from personal responsibility, you may be led to participate in activities that cause harm to others

Type 7 Traps

Refusing to think about something when your subconscious mind contradicts your conscious desires

Viewing every step you take as progress regardless of where it leads you

Ignoring consequences when your desire is strong

In order to deny the possibility of giving up something you enjoy, you may habitually neglect warning signals from your body and decline into poor health

You may avoid responsibility by moving to new jobs, groups, or activities before others come to rely on you

Type 8 Traps

Rejecting input from others because you assume you're being more objective

Ignoring all aspects of others' lives that aren't relevant to what you're trying to accomplish

Ejecting people from your life who challenge you in order to avoid feeling subject to influence from others

In denial of your physical vulnerability, you may habitually neglect warning signals from your body and decline into poor health

Preferring to be victorious in a situation regardless of the personal cost

Type 9 Traps

Pretending you don't know what you want when having what you want will require you to be assertive

Deflecting those of your thoughts that surround uncomfortable feelings

Deciding what to do and not do based on comfort rather than the results you want

Detaching from your body's signals in order to maintain a sense of peace without exertion, you may habitually neglect warning signals from your body and decline into poor health

Allowing yourself to be manipulated because you are afraid of expressing anger or resistance

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