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The Waters That We Swim In

I know about myself as a fish, but what about the waters that I swim in?

Through my Enneagram Type 6 lens, it was a frightening experience to realize how blindly I had been swimming in polluted societal and cultural waters, asleep to the extent of the negative impact on me and the other fish swimming with me. The inequities in our society—such as institutional racism—are hugely significant pollutants in our waters, operating in both overt and subtle ways, keeping an extremely inequitable hierarchy of power and privilege in place.

Each Enneagram Type has a particular way in which they relate to and struggle with issues such as insecurity, uncertainty, fear and lack, all of which can arise as we live with and confront our societal inequities. For me as an Enneagram 6, my sensitivity to what I see as abuse and misuse of power and authority gets triggered. In his book—The Essential Enneagram—Dr. David Daniels, an Enneagram Type 6, states that the 6 develops one of two strategies:

Phobic or accommodating stance: “While I became doubting, vigilant and questioning, I also learned to obey authority and to avoid perceived threats and hazards”.
Counter Phobic or challenging stance: “While I became doubting, vigilant and questioning, I also learned to defy authority and to battle perceived threats and hazards”.

When it comes to perceived abuses of authority, my go-to is a Counter-Phobic stance—take action and do battle. I’m aware that fear underlies my outrage. I can easily feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of the issues and by how ubiquitous the issues are. For me, this can lead to paralysis in the sense that I don’t know what to do or what action to take. Fortunately, my work with the Enneagram helps me to see these energies arising and not get lost in the overwhelm and fear. I know to “sit with” the energies and from that place a sense of guidance and confidence arise which is the gift that 6s bring into the world.

The Enneagram can help us to see habitual patterns that block us from moving forward—even when a desire is present—that disrupt our attempts at heartfelt communication and problem solving, and that lock us into ideas, opinions and attitudes that are limiting.

How does your type structure show up and in what ways might it be limiting you?


Get involved in Social Justice actions and conversations! Here are some opportunities:

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