Enneagram Passions or Emotional Habits?

cloud floating by emotional habits from enneagram personality type

Have you ever noticed that the “passions” of the Enneagram look a lot like the Seven Deadly Sins? We could go way deep into how Pope Gregory the Great stole that teaching from a lineage that came through Mary Magdalene and told everyone she was a prostitute, but I digress. 

What’s often called the “Seven Deadly Sins” was originally an ancient way of understanding the emotional habits our ego likes to use to keep us safe. If you think about how life experiences might send us into fight/flight/freeze/fawn, you can see how these are the pieces of ourselves we must overcome on a path back towards consciousness.

I like the way Enneagram expert Peter O’Hanrahan puts it. He says that the Enneagram helps us to name our habits. And our emotional habits, while deeply connected to our ego and personality type, they also have important survival value and they’re part of our evolution. They point to a core emotional hang-up that we must face.

The goal isn’t to get rid of them. Instead, maybe we’re meant to see them for what they are and manage them well. 

These emotional habits have kept us safe in a very scary, sad, angry world. For a LONG time, evolutionarily speaking. When we can name them, see them in ourselves, and appreciate the deep lessons they’re pointing us towards, then we unlock the power to relax the emotional habit from time to time – loosening the defensive grip they hold.

When considering how this might apply to branding, let’s keep in mind, that we’ll need to be aware of our own emotional habits as well as the ways in which these habits keep our ideal audience stuck as well.

the emotional habits of body Enneagram types

The Emotional Habits of Body Types

Everyone gets angry, but body types have a key relationship with anger. They need to feel empowered to put their anger to work in healthy ways.

  • Enneagram 8s experience anger as a defense against vulnerability. This is often called “lust” when talking about the Enneagram passions.
  • Enneagram 9s forget themselves (and their own needs/priorities) to disown their anger and avoid conflict. This is often called “sloth” when talking about the Enneagram passions.
  • Enneagram 1s let their anger seep out as irritation or resentment. They wouldn’t say they’re anger, but they’re certainly tense (the anger is just under the surface). This is traditionally referred to as simply “anger” when talking about the Enneagram passions.

the emotional habits of heart Enneagram types

The Emotional Habits of Heart Types

Everyone gets sad, but heart types have a key relationship with grief. They need to feel connected to others in order to reconnect with their authentic selves.

  • Enneagram 2s feel grief that drives pressure to win others’ esteem—they want to be seen as altruistic and helpful in the eyes of others to feel valued. This is often called “pride” when talking about the Enneagram passions.
  • Enneagram 3s feel grief that drives pressure to earn value and acclaim—they work incredibly hard to be seen as successful in the eyes of others to feel valued. This is often called “vanity” when talking about the Enneagram passions.
  • Enneagram 4s feel grief that drives comparison and idealizing situations on a search for depth—they work incredibly hard to remain unique, quirky, or special in the eyes of others to either feel valued or to create a self-fulfilling prophecy that they’re not worthy (depending on subtype). This is often called “envy” when talking about the Enneagram passions.

the emotional habits of head Enneagram types

The Emotional Habits of Head Types

Everyone gets scared, but head types have a key relationship with fear. They need to feel safe to come down out of their heads, where they tend to detach from a wide range of emotions.

  • Enneagram 5s fear being depleted, intruded upon, or overwhelmed by other people and situations so they hold tight to their time and energy (some say they hoard it!). This is often called “greed” when talking about the Enneagram passions.
  • Enneagram 6s fear unpredictable situations ahead or fear being taken advantage of, so they experience chronic worry or face that fear head-on through aggression (varies widely by subtype here too!). This is simply called “fear” when talking about the Enneagram passions.
  • Enneagram 7s fear limitation and try to avoid negative experiences and emotions at all costs, instead seeking out multiple options and wanting a little bit of everything good. This is often called “gluttony” when talking about the Enneagram passions.

When you’re living and working from a state of alignment, things just flow. And isn’t that what we all really want?