L is for Levels of Development

LOne group of Enneagram teachers introduced the idea of levels of development which speaks to the differences in health or functioning between people with the same personality type.

Because each type gets broken up into 9 levels of development, I haven’t posted a table here with all that.  Besides, other people have already done it, so I’ll link to their sites at the bottom of this post.

Here’s an example of the differences you might see between two different Ones (or between one One at different times of their life.):

A less healthy One might spend the majority of her days judging and condemning herself and others, living in resentment and self-hatred, while a more healthy One might use her sense of right and wrong to improve a situation, while having an easier time letting herself and others off the hook.

Those are big, abstract words on that chart that, unless I really bear down and concentrate, make my eyes glaze and my mind start planning we’re going to do on spring break.  But it’s important stuff, so I offer my own interpretation here:

Levels 1, 2 and 3 depict people in the healthiest range. When we’re there, we are most free from our personality’s habits of behavior and in touch with our personality’s gifts. When we do feel reactive, we have enough distance that we can pause before we take action and choose how we want to respond.

Levels 4, 5 and 6 describe what we look like at average levels of health. This is when we are caught up in our type’s perspective, not seeing that we could respond to life in other ways, only experiencing the gifts of our personality fleetingly, through our never-satisfied ego rather than through our more essential or truer self.

Levels 7, 8 and 9 are the unhealthy levels. This is when we start to display pathological behaviors and perspectives which can cause great harm to ourselves and others.

We move fluidly through the levels even inside of a day or a week. They aren’t a series of steps we can take to go from bad to good.

Rather, they are another layer to the map that can show us where we spend most of our time. We might notice that we function at different levels at work or with acquaintances than we do with close family and friends.  That might give us some insight about what is going on in those areas.

Knowing what the high side of our personality looks like paints the picture of what we might experience when we begin to let go of our ego’s grip on things, Knowing what the low side looks like may help us catch ourselves if we start to deteriorate.

If you want to read more on the Levels of Development, you can visit

The Enneagram Institute

Another blog with detailed information about each type at each level


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