Eileen Head Personality & Relationship Expert

The Enneagram Triads - Centers of Intelligence

There are three centers of intelligence; Heart/Emotions, Head/Mind, Body/Instinct and we call each of these a triad. There are three personality types within each triad. You tend to focus more heavily on the emotion within one of these centers. The three centers show you how the types are linked and how they differ. Each center is characterized by an emotion which deeply influences how you react and how you experience relationships.


These strategies of reacting to life were developed for survival, obtaining affection and gaining attention within the family dynamics. Their basic emotion also affects your behavior and relationships in adulthood too.


In order to lead a balanced and fulfilling life, you need to develop all three centers. However, if you tend to over focus on one, like a three legged stool, one of your legs will be much longer or shorter than the others. When you are balanced you integrate all three legs. Learning how to consciously manage your emotions affects how healthy your relationships are.

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Head Mind Triad
Heart Emotional Triad
If you are a Heart/Emotion Center type which is either a 2-Supporter, 3-Achiever, or 4-Expresser—you tend to perceive the world through the filter of emotional intelligence. You establish a strong bond with your own feelings. Your emotion is expressed as the need for approval from others, especially those that are important to you to the extent of forfeiting your own needs.
You use your high sensitivity to the moods and feelings of others in relationships. You "do" life by looking for smooth, pleasant connections and reaching outwardly to others. To sustain your self-esteem you create an image so others will invite you into their lives and see you as loving and special. You wish to be seen for who you are and to be paid attention to.


You focus on "not falling apart" and "keep moving forward." Being competent and capable are of primary importance as are accomplishments and success. More than other types you are aware of what people say, what pleases others, what prevents conflict which dictates how you live your life and make choices. Focusing on what earns approval and recognition ensure others will support your value and being loved.



Supporters create a loving image to seek approval, to be liked and to feel valued. 

Achievers project a successful image to seek the respect and value from others for what you accomplish.

Expressers create an image of being unique, special, and sensitive to be valued.

If you are a Head/Thinking Center type which is a 5-Contemplator, 6- Questioner, or 7-Optimister— you need to belong and favour rationality.  You approach relationships through reasoning. Your predominant emotion is Fear; fear of failure, of not doing the right thing, of missing good opportunities and especially of not comprehending. 
You do not give too much emphasis to the outside world or to other peoples’ opinions, often appearing distrustful, superficial or uninterested.  In reality, this is mainly a defense mechanism against the fear that characterizes these personalities.
You see the world as an invasion or intrusion. To create safety and reduce anxiety, and manage challenging situations, you gain certainty by analyzing and planning in order to be prepared. You perceive life to be a problem that needs to be worked out.
As a head type, what you see through your eyes is made sense of in your head. It is important to understand what things mean so you can stay in control. Figuring things out, making sense of life and being right is also important to you.

Contemplators withdraw and retreat to use your mind and figure things out. You have a fear of intrusion and prefer to be on the outside observing and gathering data to figure people out.


Questioners use your mind to scan the horizon for possible signs of danger so that you can be prepared to act instantly. You have a fear of other people’s unpredictability.


Optimisters use your mind as a distraction to plan the many exciting possibilities. You process your fear by keeping on the go and being distracted.



If you are a Body/Action Center type which is an 8-Asserter, 9-Peace Seeker, or 1-Perfecter you are characterized by the predominance of the instinct. You tend to act impulsively, be oriented towards action and seeks to resolve any relationship issue in the body and within yourself.


You tend to filter the world through an intelligence of physical sensations and gut instinct. You get what you need by interacting very directly or indirectly. Life seems a struggle and you use personal power or position to win and survive.


As a body type you have a “don’t mess with me” attitude. You devise strategies to stay in control and assure your place in the world. You have a strong moral sense and will protect and make rules for the good of all, as you see it.


The predominant emotion is Anger, which is processed differently by each of the three belly types: it can be openly expressed, it can be denied or it can remain unconscious without the need to be either expressed or denied.


Asserters feel that anger is a natural instinct and will react immediately very directly both physically and verbally.


Peace Seekers are the type most out of touch with and deny their instinctual angry energy preferring to deflect the anger of others to create peace and harmony.


Perfecters stay in control of themselves and instinctual angry feelings at all times as it is not right to become angry.



Body Instinctive Triad

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