Are you a head, heart, or belly person?
In the Enneagram world, we talk a lot about the head center (thinking), heart center (emotion/desire/image) or body center (action/boundaries/somatic experience). We all have access to these three centers and it can get confusing… so, how you do you determine which is your go-to for making decisions, processing information, and driving impulses and reactions and why would you want to know, anyway?
Here’s a (super simplified) breakdown of the three centers:
Heart center: Your emotions are your number one priority. Types in the heart triad are concerned with self-image and how you’re perceived by others. Sometimes, your reactions to life seem misguided or inauthentic because you’ve landed in a mood or emotion and aren’t considering all that needs to be considered.
Head center: The head type perceives the world through thinking and logic. You seek safety through anticipation, competency, or risk-management when considering any decision-making. You can be either slow to respond or impulsive because you under-think or over-think.
Gut center: These types often get a visceral reaction and just know. You seek autonomy and are informed by a strong somatic sense in your approach to the world. Sometimes you react without checking in with the other centers to see if your impulses are accurate or helpful.
Bear with me here. I’m going to rewind a bit.
From the time you were a child, you gradually moved away from one of these centers and landed pretty firmly in the other two. If you aren’t living into all three centers in a balanced and conscious way, you are, by definition, coming from an imbalanced and unconscious place.
This is the basis for your Enneagram type.
The very foundation of the Enneagram is an explanation for how you forget about one of these three centers.
When we talk about presence, we are referring to the ways you are aware of and using all three centers of intelligence. When present (using the healthy aspects of all three centers), you have more choice about how you show up in the world.
When contracted into your personality (unconsciously moving about the world, forgetting about one of these three centers), you have much less choice, more blind spots, and are moving through the world based on unconscious patterns.
Here’s a quick run-down of all the types at the average levels:
The Gut/Belly Center
Type 8: takes action, then using thinking for support; forgets about what actually matters or what they want.
Type 9: thinks and feels and is slow to engage OR takes action without thinking or feeling.
Type 1: takes action based on intense feelings and forgets to check in with their rational thinking which would allow them to accurately consider all the facts.
The Heart Center
Type 2: feels something (a desire for connection or a fear of being seen in a way other than what they’d want) and takes action to support that; forgets their logic that would tell them if this action is actually wanted or needed.
Type 3: takes lots of action to make something (or lots of things!) happen but forgets what they actually want because they are focused on what others want from them; OR is all feeling (usually about the emptiness, lack of fulfillment, and overwhelm they are experiencing) with. little deliberate action and thought.
Type 4: feels their way through life and uses their thinking to intensify these feelings, but forgets to take action that might change their situation and/or how they feel about it.
The Head Center
Type 5: thinks about all kinds of things related to their life and things that are out of touch with reality. They then find an emotion to justify those thoughts in an attempt to justify/create this new reality all the while, forgetting to engage with real human beings and the real world around them.
Type 6: lives in their head, figuring things out and planning for action, but is slow to take that action; OR they are feeling and doing without using the clarity of their head where all the logic lies.
Type 7: thinking and then doing, forgetting about the heart and what actually matters to them to inform the doing.
But why do we need to know our type and it’s favorite centers?
- If you know your type, this gives you a context for why things might not be working for you. It gives you insight about fulfillment, procrastination, perfectionism, and other aspects that tend to bring people to coaching or therapy.
For example, as someone who identifies with type 7, I often find myself frenetically flitting about, thinking, doing, thinking, doing, but I have learned that I forget to bring my heart into my day. If I take a breath, turn my attention inward, and ask, “What do I want right now?”
I get in touch with an essential piece of information that will allow the thinking and doing to also be fulfilling.
- When present, you are accessing your head, heart, and body at their higher levels. You are accessing the absolute best intelligence available to you.
When you pay attention to all 3 centers, you are actually present and when present, you return yourself to wholeness and are no longer abandoning any one part of yourself.
Using the example above, if I was more conscious or present in my day, I’d be taking action based on what I understand to be
- true, logical, and doable (head)
- what I want, what matters to me, how I feel about it
- my action/engagement is informed by by head and my heart and I actually do it!
What are you learning about your type, the way you make decisions, and what you might want to grow into?
If this sparks some curiosity for you, join my mailing list at the bottom of this page and be the first to know about upcoming opportunities where we’ll explore this and more!