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How Your Enneagram Type Deals with Anger

Anyone watching Silo? 

My oldest son recommended it a few months back but it took me some time to tiptoe into this dystopian series. Two episodes in and I was hooked. There are things I don’t like about it; namely, that it’s basically gray. There is nothing light – literally, in terms of the colors on the screen – about it. There is also, so far, not much metaphorically light about it. The Enneagram Type Seven in me has hope for them seeing greener pastures (literally and figuratively) and that’s what keeps me watching. That could be a whole newsletter in itself. 

But I digress…

Last night I was watching an episode and the powers that be needed to shut down the generator to the silo so that they could (hopefully) repair it. This left the whole community dark. I won’t say more because I don’t want to spoil it, but for much of the episode, the engineers were watching heat and pressure build up behind a closed valve and if they didn’t release the pressure, the whole thing could blow up or shut down.

It reminded me of what it’s like when we don’t experience our anger as the hot, warm, tense energy that it actually is. 

There is nothing virtuous about not feeling anger. To not have anger would be to expect yourself to be far more evolved than any of us are, to be sure. But to not experience anger is something quite common. 

If you never experience anger, there is most definitely some repression, suppression, or spiritual bypassing at work. 

What’s repression? Repression is a defense mechanism that, unbeknownst to you and your conscious awareness, keeps all the crappy, undesirable things out. It is what keeps you from feeling feelings that are real but they then get stored as energy inside your body. 

What is suppression?Suppression is a defense mechanism that you consciously decide not to feel. It is a way of pushing anger away because it doesn’t fit with your idea of who you are supposed to be and what is acceptable to feel and express. 

And spiritual bypassing? That’s a fun one. Spiritual bypassing is less a defense mechanism and more an image issue. When you decide you’ve evolved beyond anger without doing the necessary work, you have spiritually bypassed. You’ve come up with some spiritual reason for not experiencing things you don’t want to experience, but nothing has changed at the cellular level. This involves no healing.

What google psychology fails to mention is that anger isn’t the same thing as a tantrum, expressed rage, or violence. That’s actually reactivity. That’s what happens when we don’t experience anger in a productive way. It lays dormant in the body and builds pressure until an explosion happens. Or, it builds and builds and our adrenals are spent and we shut down. Both are actually survival strategies. They are ways that keep us from plummeting down the levels of our personality. 

I couldn’t help but see this play out in Silo and held it as a metaphor for the ways our personalities also need to let some of the pressure out in order to keep ourselves and the world around us safe. 

If you do your work with anger, it is simply energy – even productive energy – that needs to move through your body. In fact, anger is more like a safety valve. It tells us when a boundary has been violated. It also moves us to the right, next action. 

Anger has a purpose so regression, suppression, and spiritual bypassing might be helpful for a period of time, but they aren’t anything to write home about. In the long run, the pressure just keeps building. We either explode or retreat, finding somewhere to withdraw from the world and hide. Sounds a little bit like anxiety and depression, huh? That’s because it often becomes that if the pressure doesn’t release. 

Every Enneagram Type experiences anger. Anger is not an emotion that lives in the heart, but rather, in the body. Therefore, the Body Types tend to have more issues with anger than the rest of us. 

If your Enneagram Type shares a line with a Body Type, you might have issues, too. Guess what? That’s all of us. 

The Body Types, when babies and adults, respond to things they don’t like with anger. Different from the Heart Types and the Head Types, anger is familiar to them. 

Here’s an example. If you have three children, one from each intelligence center, and you are late to pick them up from practice, your Body Center type child will likely be angry. Your Heart Center type child will likely feel rejected in some way. Your Head Center child will likely feel fear. Not a perfect science, but you might start to watch. 

At the average levels, how each of them deals with those emotions is different based on type. In this blog, we’re just talking about anger. 

Enneagram Type Eight, the type at the start of the Body Center, experiences anger outward. You know when an Enneagram Type Eight is angry. They don’t hide it. If they haven’t learned how to deal with their anger, it often gets released as rage, spewed out at someone or something else. 

Enneagram Type Nine represses their anger. “Anger? What anger? Nothing to see here. It’s all good.” They push their anger down and aren’t even aware of it (until they are).

Enneagram Type One suppresses its anger. They turn it on themselves, actually. It goes inside and they often have an inner critic telling them they screwed up and that’s why they’re angry. Or it builds up as unspoken resentment toward the world. “Why doesn’t everyone else care about this as much as me?”

While you might not identify with one of these types, you might identify with one of these ways of experiencing anger. 

Ask yourself some questions:

  • What is my relationship to anger? 
  • When do I experience anger? 
  • Do I judge anger? 
  • Am I more often angry at myself or others? 

And of note: frustration and resentment are just other forms of anger so you can substitute those words in these same inquiries. 

What are you noticing? 

I’d love to have you join me in Mighty Networks, our small community where we talk more about these and other topics. Or reply to this email and let me know what you think. Did it make you angry? Bwahahahaha. Just kidding {yes, this is how my Enneagram Type Seven often deals with anger when I’m not aware!}.

More than anything, what I want is for you, like they did in the Silo, to recognize your valve’s pattern. Notice the pressure and your response to it. Maybe, instead of exploding or shutting down, you can loosen the screws and feel it in your body. Go for a walk. Feel your feet on the ground. And then maybe take some action. Because remember, that anger is here to help you.

Christina Granahan

Christina Granahan

Enneagram-informed coach + therapist

I teach you how to use your Enneagram type to realize the relationships and success that you’ve been chasing at work, home, or school. Let's connect and see how I can help you.

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