C is for Centers

CCenters of Intelligence, that is.

Scientists have discovered neurons (brain cells) in our digestive track and in our hearts.  Neurons transmit information, which means they know stuff or they wouldn’t have information to transmit.  In other words, we have smart cells in our guts and hearts as well as our brains.


That means we have three places within our bodies to which we can look for wisdom.

Centers of Intelligence are another layer to the Enneagram map, because each personality type has a different relationship with the Centers.

In the Enneagram world, you may hear the categories as Head, Heart and Body types.  Others say Thinking, Feeling, and Doing types.  You will also hear Fear, Shame and Anger types.  I’ll explain.

Head/Thinking/Fear types are the Fives, Sixes and Sevens





Heart/Feeling/Shame types are the Twos, Threes and Fours




Body/Doing/Anger types are the Eights, Nines and Ones.







All grouped together so neatly.

What does this all mean???

It means that we have three reliable sources of information at our disposal, anytime, anywhere.

However, we tend to have distorted relationships with at least some of these centers.

However, we can strengthen our ability to listen to all three centers.

However, it’s not always easy to tune in to all of them.

However one more time, because I hate to end on a bad note, it is so worth it.

Imagine having what I’m about to describe at your disposal, any time, anywhere. 

And then know that you do.

From your head/thinking center, you have rational thought, the ability to imagine, vision, analyze, use words, make plans and determine which steps come first, second and twelfth.  These are all good things, no?

From your heart/feeling center, you have your emotional intelligence.  It informs you, without using words, about love, about how and when to be vulnerable, what you’re passionate about and what’s special.  It guides you to care for yourself and other people because it is very much about relationships.  Again, lots of good stuff here.

Lastly, you have your body/doing center.  This is the part of you that ‘gets’ stuff.  Your body senses the energy in a room, gives  you your first impressions of people, tells you when it is okay to stick around vs. when you best get out of a situation as quickly or as stealthily as possible.  The body center is often referred to as your intuition.  Without words, your body tells you which door to open, which trip to take, and whether or not it’s a good idea to go on a second date with that person.  Valuable information, would you agree?

What do Fear, Anger and Shame have to do with intelligence?

We all experience those three emotions.

When we have fear, we tend to use our minds to find our way to certainty or to manage the situation so it’s not so scary.

When we are angry, we tend to ground ourselves in our bodies so we can more powerfully rage against whatever machine made us mad.

When we are in shame, it is our heart that bears that burden.

How does all this play out within our personality types? 

Thought you’d never ask.

Center of Intelligence Enneagram Type Distorted relationship to that center Ways we can all use our Centers of Intelligence to our advantage
Body/Anger Eight Anger can be their go-to emotion and they don’t always notice its effect on other people  When we ground ourselves in our bodies, check out what sensations we notice in our bodies, and breathe, we become more present to what is happening now.  We become more open to the intelligence of our bodies and can better access the wisdom from going slow and staying grounded.  We become less reactive and more able to respond to the present situation.
Nine They may deny their anger only to have it come out later as stubbornness or passive/aggressiveness
One Anger can get repressed in their bodies and come out in fits of rage and resentment
Two Because of shame for who they believe they are, they may sacrifice themselves to earn love from and connection to others When we tune in to the space around and within our hearts, we can hear our authentic callings and desires. From our hearts, we can feel connected to others, feel compassion for them and for ourselves.  Allowing our hearts to open brings us into the present moment with ourselves and the people around us.
Three They often deny the yearnings of their heart, their authentic selves, out of shame and instead pursue an image of themselves they believe will make them more valuable
Four Shame can make them feel so disconnected that they hold themselves apart from others, feel unique and misunderstood which exacerbates the feeling of disconnection
Head/Fear Five They may find refuge from anxiety in their minds where they feel safe from intrusiveness and can concentrate on increasing their knowledge, without which they may not feel prepared for the world. Our minds are great sources of wisdom.  When we are already grounded in our bodies and open-hearted, our minds tend to also open.  From that place, they are more likely to come up with innovative, efficient and effective ways to accomplish things.
Six Out of anxiety and reactivity, they may get lost in all the what-ifs and self-doubt.  In those times, they don’t have access to the wisdom in their minds, only an endless source of negative and scary possibilities.
Seven They often escape anxiety by jumping up into their heads and making plans or thinking about what is yet to come that will be stimulating or wonderful.  They also use their minds to rationalize their behaviors, granting themselves the freedom  to do what they want to do without being concerned about the consequences.

What’s your relationship like with your head, heart, and body?

As the theory goes, if there is one center of intelligence that is under-utilized, bringing your attention to that center can have a significant impact on how you make decisions–possibly with more wisdom/clarity, more authentically or more groundedness.

What do you think?

5 thoughts on “C is for Centers

  1. Great information. I’m reading your posts each day, even if I’m not commenting on each one. Reading them has been a lovely refresher course for me.

    I was surprised to see the arrow activity (letter A) during times of integration and disintegration. I had learned, for example, that style one disintegrates to four–but not that the mind then continues to bounce from style to style according to the direction of the arrows. I tend to align with Riso and Hudson’s theories and their Levels of Development charts instead. According to them, during times of disintegration, a style one could actually go to lower levels of style seven in addition to style four–but not all the way around the points.

    It’s all theory anyway. I don’t know that I’ve observed much of any of it in reality, except that people do tend to behave most of the time within a default type. The reason for educating them about the enneagram is to help them see their habitual attitudes and behaviors, and for them to realize that there are other choices that include, but are not limited to, higher levels of functioning within their own type, higher levels within their integrating and disintegrating types, and higher levels within their wing types.

    But again in reality, I’ve discovered that whenever I start telling my friends about the enneagram, their eyes glaze over. Few people I’ve been associated with have any interest in, or put any stock into enneagram theory, and they are especially uninterested in how they could use it to change their own behaviors.

    But using it sure makes writing novels, which is my profession, interesting. I love putting my characters in a situation and then giving them behavioral choices based on the level of development they are at within their type, and then within other possible types at the same level of development.


    • Thanks for reading and commenting! I didn’t mean to imply that our behavior makes the rounds from one type to another in the direction of the arrows. I hoped to show how one type can take on the behaviors of another type in either direction depending on their level of stress. Sorry that wasn’t more clear!
      I have played around with typing my characters in novels as well and was in a writing class where we had a big discussion about personality type and novel characters–very entertaining!
      (Letter ‘L’ will be about Levels of Development so stay tuned if you are interested.)


  2. Pingback: D is for Distance or Disidentification | Nine Kinds of Kids

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