P is for Passions

PPassion, in the Enneagram world, has an uncommon meaning.

I’m all about passion in the, soul’s-desire, manifest-your-dreams, go-after-that-which-makes-your-heart-sing kind of way.  However, in this context, passions are more like obsessions than inner callings.

In relation to the Enneagram, Passions are feelings that pull us powerfully in the wrong direction, away from our true self and into the chaos of dysfunction and misguided actions.

You’ll see what I mean when you read the list and recognize the deadly sins, among other things.  If it were up to me, I’d call them Fatal Distractions or Objects of our Delusions, but at least Passions gives me the ‘P’ word that I need today.

Here’s the list of the Passions that are connected to each type:

Type Passion Passion-fueled beliefs
One Anger Other people are doing it wrong.
Two Pride I’m more helpful than most people.  I deserve to be appreciated.
Three Deceit I am whoever you need me to be.
Four Envy Other people have something I’m missing.
Five Avarice I have to hold onto what little I have.
Six Fear I am not safe.
Seven Gluttony I want to take a bite of all that’s good in life.
Eight Lust I want what I want when I want it.
Nine Sloth It’s better to ignore myself and follow along with everyone else to make things easy.

Our passions fuel our behavior in both obvious and subtle ways.

A Seven may never want to stop partying, traveling, sleeping with people, shopping or eating to escape the anxiety that she might feel discomfort or pain. Or, more subtly, she may have four novels going at once, multiple options for what to do on Saturday night, and never cook the same meal twice.

A Five’s avarice might show up as literal hoarding or, more subtly, as hoarding her time so she can stay focused on her pursuits.

I’m not presenting this information to make us all feel like terrible people.

It’s just another layer of the map. Our passions are like big, fat clues, telling us to pay attention because our personality or ego has taken over and we need to disidentify from it.

We can break it down into three steps that can help loosen the shackles a bit. It goes like this:

  1. Know your type’s passion.
  2. Pay attention to how it shows up in your life. Looking back on situations can help you identify when you’ve succumbed to the passion in the past, which should make it is easier to start to recognize when it is happening in the moment.
  3. When you see it, call it what it is, and then find out what else is going on. What is causing you to cling to this intense but oh so misguided inclination to satisfy your passion?

Example? Of course.

  1. A Four learns he has a tendency to feel Envy
  2. He sees it show up when he is feeling shame or inadequacy. Envy steps in to try to prove to him that other people are happier and more successful than he is.  Therefore, they must have something he doesn’t. Envy fuels his never-ending search for that elusive quality that he’s sure he’s missing.
  3. Once he realizes all this, he can be on the lookout for envy.   When he observes himself feeling envious, he can pause, breathe, ask himself what’s going on and attend to that rather than to the delusion.

By now this won’t come as a big surprise, but it’s important to note that most of us can all relate to more than one of the passions, but one in particular tends to fuel us more than the others.

Do you see the passion of your type show up in your life in subtle or obvious ways? Is there another passion you relate to? Do you know what’s fueling it? Is it shame, anxiety, anger? I’d love to hear.

Oh, and stay tuned for the letter ‘V’aboutn Virtues which are the opposite of the Passions and might make us all feel a little better about our lot.

One thought on “P is for Passions

  1. Pingback: V is for Virtues | Nine Kinds of Kids

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