The 3 Enneagram Instincts & How They Can Transform Your Life

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Are you ready to transform your life for the better? Learning about your Enneagram instincts can make your journey that much easier. 

You are born with three Enneagram instincts, and you can't survive without them. There's the instinct that you rely heavily on, another is your strength, and the last is your blind spot.

Discovering these instincts and learning how they transform your life can take you to a new level of consciousness. Are you ready to take the next step?

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Here are the 3 Enneagram instincts that will transform your life.

1. Self-preservation.

Self-preservation is a subtype concerned about the survival, safety, and well-being of ourselves and our family.

These folks are often worried about having enough money, a safe and comfortable place to live, and access to medical care.

People who identify with this subtype are always looking out for danger and making sure they're ready for whatever comes their way. When they sense danger, they look inward to solve problems.

Self-preservation folks are in touch with their physical needs. They notice when they're hungry and make sure they eat regularly. They make sure they go to the doctor and that their family members take care of themselves, too.

They make sure they have enough money and resources for their retirement, as well as making sure bills get paid on time. They want to make sure that credit cards get paid down every month and that their family is spending within its means.

2. Social.

This subtype is always searching for groups and communities to participate in. It's important for them to feel part of a group and know their role.

They are great observers and can discern who has the power to get things done.

They take an interest in knowing the norms, procedures, and hierarchies of groups that are important to them.

This subtype has a particular orientation to people, social acceptance, honor, status, popularity, and recognition.

They compare themselves to others and will sacrifice for the good of a group. When they're facing a problem, they look to the group to resolve the concern.

Being in a social subtype doesn't mean they're extroverts. They can be an introvert and still place great importance on the group.

For social types, the group is always more important than the individual.

3. Sexual (one-on-one).

This subtype is always looking for intimacy and intense one-on-one connections. When a person who identifies with the sexual subtype goes into a room, they are attracted to people with powerful energies.

When they're with the other person, their attention becomes focussed on that individual. They're connected energetically, emotionally, and mentally.

People of this subtype like to show off like a peacock. They want to stand out from others and encourage reactions from others, so they're not overlooked.

It's easy for them to feel alone, incomplete, and preoccupied about how others see them. They want to be beautiful and strong.

When this subtype is in a relationship, they bring intensity and self-sacrifice into the relationship.

They're always looking for their other half, and they don't feel complete unless they're in a close relationship.

When they're trying to solve problems, they look toward their primary relationship to resolve issues.

People in the intense sexual subtype make sure they look their best every day.

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Discovering your dominant instinct, healthy instinct, and blindspot can help you become more balanced.

Noticing the strengths of each of the three instincts can help you to notice how you show up in the world.

So, how do you balance your Enneagram instincts?

1. Middle instinct.

An excellent place to start is working on your middle instinct, which is probably your healthiest. Notice how you're responding to the world through this instinct.

How are you benefiting from this instinct? What is still getting you in trouble?

If your middle instinct is self-preservation, you probably take good care of yourself and your family.

You eat well and get plenty of sleep. You make sure you have adequate insurance to prepare yourself for surprises that may happen. You prevent problems from occurring before they happen.

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If your middle instinct is social, you're in groups where you can excel. You make a great leader because you know how to bring out the best in others.

You know how to get things done because you know who you need to get things done. You're not afraid to ask the right people for what you need.

If your middle instinct is sexual, you're attracted to strong, healthy relationships. You don’t get overly concerned about your looks. You can enjoy time alone and are not afraid to be in groups.

2. Dominant instinct.

You probably overdo your dominant instinct.

For example, if you identify with self-preservation, you're probably over-concerned about your security and well-being. You probably also worry too much about all the possible things that could go wrong.

Suppose you overdo your social instinct. You probably over-identify with the group and ignore your own needs.

You will give away too much of yourself to meet the needs of the group. You may feel insecure, always worried that you do not have enough power in the group.

If you overdo your sexual instinct, you may be overly concerned about whether you are beautiful or strong enough.

You will tend to compare yourself with others, always wanting to look better than others. You may also have a great fear of being alone.

3. Blind spot.

If your blind spot is self-preservation, you probably forget you have physical, emotional, and mental needs. You may spend more than you can afford. You may not be ready for your retirement.

You may not eat well, causing you to have health problems.

If your blind spot is social, you may be utterly oblivious to the impact you are having on the group.

You may get in trouble for not respecting the norms, and being blind to the needs of the group. You may act like the "Lone Ranger" and cause a lot of irritation and anger.

If your blind spot is sexual, you're at risk of getting into an inappropriate relationship, such as someone already married or too young.

You will have powerful energy with little self-awareness leading to unhealthy and abusive relationships.

Transformation through your instincts.

Once you discern your instincts, you will better understand your Enneagram type.

When you add the instincts to the nine Enneagram types, you then have 27 subtypes.

For example, a sexual six shows up differently from a social six. A self-preservation eight shows up differently than a sexual eight.

As you get healthier in your three subtypes, you get healthier in all nine Enneagram types.

Discovering your dominant instinct can help you observe yourself in action without judging yourself. It will give you clues to what to look out for in your behavior.

With practice and patience, you can begin to get more balanced in your three subtypes.

Learning your subtype can help you be more precise in identifying the Enneagram type you most identify with, helping you to make sense of how you show up in the world.

Discovering your instincts can help you to be clear about the unhealthy behaviors that you want to change.

The path to being your best self takes time.

After discovering your type and your primary instinct, you begin a journey of self-observation.

Over time, you will eventually stop unhealthy behaviors and replace them with new attitudes and habits that bring out the best in you.

With the help of the Enneagram, you can learn to be more present, keeping open your three centers of intelligence the body (sensations), the heart (emotions), and the head (thoughts).

The Enneagram is all about helping you to stay connected with your better self. This is a lifelong journey, because learning never ends.

As you continue to get healthier, you will stay more present, helping you to live a more joyful life.

RELATED: What Your Enneagram Personality Type Reveals About Who You Really Are

Roland Legge is a life coach who offers coaching through REL Consultants for individuals, couples, families, and executives to help them to be the best they can be. For more information, please arrange for a free 30-minute discovery call by sending an email.

This article was originally published at REL Consultants. Reprinted with permission from the author.