Recently, I saw the question raised how Ones and Nines were “anger types” — Ones, after all, preferring to not show anger, and Nines seeming do bend over backwards to avoid it, both in themselves and from others. The only “anger type” that seems to live up to the name is the Eight. So, what gives?
There are multiple ways to respond to this question. One perspective has to do with how we process and express anger, and even what we choose to put this label on (and I wrote a whole article on anger before, unrelated to the Enneagram). Another perspective has to do with what plane of experience we are discussing. Let’s look at both — but first, it is good to remind ourselves that anger (as well as shame and fear) is universal.
Universal phenomenon or triad label?
When Enneagram type descriptions tie one trait, tendency or aspect to a certain type or group, it does not mean that other types or groups lack it — it just means that this trait, tendency etc means something particular in relation to the type or group in question. So as for anger, this is obviously something that we all have, process and express in various ways.
So we need to get that the descriptions that put anger with the instinctive triad, shame with the heart triad and fear with the head triad are not about exclusivity. It’s not that instinctive types get angry more often than other types. And it’s not that they get angrier than others. (If you have ever met a seriously annoyed Six, you know what I mean.) Likewise, it’s not that the heart types walk around feeling ashamed (at least no more so than anyone else) or the head types are all scaredy-cats.
Sure, there are examples of all of this, and that is what makes it tricky. A lot of experience with Fours might certainly give you the idea that the shame thing is overt and supposed to be seen. The same with Fives, and some Sixes, and the energy of fear. And certainly so with a lot of Eights and the association with anger (as those occasionally give off the vibe of anger while feeling positively peachy inside!) So the first thing we need to get is that while these are expressions of the overall emotional tone of the triad in question, they also make us stay with the superficial, missing the real point of these descriptions.
As long as we keep this in mind, we can go on to explore the two perspectives I mentioned above: How we process and express anger as an actual response, and what existential plane we are referring to when we talk about “anger types”.
How the types in the instinctive triad process and express anger
So what is it about for the instinctual types? What does it mean that they are “anger types” or “coming from anger”? It means that their common orientation to life and the world gets fed from the instinctual plane of our existence — i e, gut energy. (More about this below in the next perspective.) This energy is rather on/off in nature, and it wants things to be the way I want them to be. How that is obviously varies individually, just as my way to go about making it so varies strongly with type.
Anger in the Eight
In the Eight, this powerful energy is generally directed outwards. And, since Eights often do not mind being angry (that is, they do not see it as a sign of weakness or lack of control), if they get riled up, they have no trouble showing it. (Also they might sometimes see what others label anger in them as “decisiveness” or “just putting it plainly”.) If Eights wants something to happen, they will generally assert themselves — complete with all their instinctual energy — in an attempt to make it happen. And the thing is, the Eight will (also generally) primarily want to affect things in the outside world and thus tend to direct his or her attention outwards, into the environment.
Anger in the One
The Ones also want to affect things in the outside world, but even more so, they want to control their own instinctual energy lest it seeps out and gets the better of them. Thus Ones expression of anger is to a large extent internalised, causing tensions and other physical manifestations. When the Ones want to affect their outside world in the direction they (or, often, their internalised ideals and their superego) believe is right, the anger will frequently come out as pursed lips, reprimands, indignation and/or a sense of contained outrage. Just like the Eight, the One might also deny being angry (although you might suspect they are), but whereas the Eight genuinely just saves the label for a stronger reaction, the One’s objection will be down to seeing anger as a loss of self-control.
Anger in the Nine
The Nine, as the primary type of the triad, can be most out of touch with their instinctual energy. That does not mean it is not there, but average level Nines tend to split it off from thoughts and feelings in a way that the moving energy of the instinctual centre is often used in a kind of “autopilot mode” (where others might sense the quality of the Nine’s energy, whereas the Nines themselves are out to lunch, awareness-wise). If the Nines actually gets upset, their impulse is to distract themselves or otherwise diffuse the anger, as there is generally a sense — whether this is conscious or not — that the instinctual energy within might otherwise risk erupting beyond their control in a destructive manner. The Nine, too, will often deny being angry when asked about it (getting even angrier and denying it even stronger if you keep bringing it up).
Anyone who has had a decent introduction to the model is likely to have heard the above distinctions. But then, there is the other perspective, which is more subtle — and therefore often harder to explain, requiring a more in-depth understanding of the model as such.
What are we referring to when we say the types in the instinctive triad are “anger types”?
Looking at the descriptions above, obviously we could just as well go on to talk about how Twos, Threes, and all of the other types typically process and express anger (but, since the instinctual energy is not as paramount to their psychological make-up, that would not be as meaningful as looking at their corresponding energy from the emotional and mental realms respectively). Because, as we already established, everyone gets angry. So what is the deal with these three types?
“Anger” as instinctual energy
Even if we look at the Eights — the type most likely to quite unapologetically direct their instinctual energy outwards and have no qualms about announcing it when they are furious — it’s not like even they are necessarily angry, as a state of mind, all of the time (or in some cases, even a lot). The One and certainly the Nine, even less so. Rather, the common theme of these three types is that they are motivated by the energy of anger, which is to say the energy of instinct; the energy of trying to make the world (or life) bend to how I think it should be and efforts to control (or resist) opposing forces, while at the same time resisting being affected by said forces themselves.
This energy generally operates at a deeper plane of existence than our everyday awareness stretches to. One reason for this is that its pure expression was often frowned upon, reprimanded, shamed or even outright punished in our childhood. When little children experience and experiment with their access to this instinctual energy (which for them constitutes a much bigger part of their overall experience than it does for the adults), adults often become uncomfortable, as they in turn were raised to contain or restrict theirs.
A deeper plane of experience
Another reason, though, is that most cultures and societies do not put the instinctual energy at the forefront of everyday life. We are busy functioning at what is generally considered a “higher” level of existence than the instinctual: the cognitive level, mostly, possibly with a little heart energy dropped into the mix when it’s safe and considered appropriate to do so.
Even in solitude, when there’s no one around to see it, the host of other features in our systems and the lack of societal awareness of the instinctual realm mean that most of us are still largely unaware of the instinctual energy. Alone, we might be aware of emotions, reactions or other parts of our experience that feel private — and sure, for the infamous Eight as well as for others, this might occasionally include feeling mightily pissed off or even raging. But it would be rare for us to just stand in that, experiencing the source of this force itself.
The instinctual energy lives at a deeper level of experience than just mood or reactivity. For most people, when they access this force experientially, it does not even feel like “anger”, but just raw, instinctual power. But closer to the surface level, the ego quickly interprets this experience as “anger” and reacts to it in varying ways — in the Eight, by embracing it and often abusing it, in the One, controlling it and trying to suppress it, and in the Nine, either pretending it’s not there or denying that it could possibly contribute positively to anything.
* * *
Next time you feel angry — for whatever reason, to whatever degree and regardless of which personality type you have, and when you have the opportunity to safely do so — you might experiment with the energy of it. Put the mental narrative about whatever situation gave rise to it aside for a minute or two, and just feel the energy of anger in your body. Let it inhabit you, feel its physical energy within. Give it a shape, or a sound, or both. Move with it. Let it spend itself. The resulting joy might surprise you ❤️
The “Levels of Development” within the Enneagram always made sense to me — in theory. When I first encountered them (which was basically when I discovered the work of Don Riso and Russ Hudson, which was quite soon after discovering the Enneagram overall more than 20 years ago), they lifted a flat system into three-dimensionality.
Moreover, in a way, they also identified 81 different ways of operating, rather than just 9 (and that was before accounting for things like wings and instinctual preferences, which obviously broaden the scope even more). They made the Enneagram model feel authentically human. All really juicy things … except I couldn’t seem to nail down my centre of gravity; the level that I was defaulting back to. When I tried, it was a bit like trying to grasp a soap in water: extremely slippery.
The levels falling into place
In 2005, after I did part 3 of my training with the Enneagram institute (ergo, at the time, Don Riso and Russ Hudson), it fell into place. It clicked for me how we can really identify a centre of gravity, despite recognising multiple levels and sometimes feeling like we act from all of them within a day, or even simultaneously. It was like I had understood what to look for, where to direct my attention, and what to disregard. Now, it would be convenient indeed if I could go on to tell you exactly how this happened, but unfortunately I can’t. It was one of those things that just integrates naturally when you have reached a critical mass of experience and understanding — after which you really don’t get what was so unclear before.
But the beautiful thing is we don’t have to know exactly where our centre of gravity is to do or inner work. We can just pick and choose the practices that help us evolve, engage in these practices, and voilà — we grow. That said though, it’s sometimes hard to tell what really helps, and what just has us going in circles. And occasionally, a practice that feel like its helping in fact just offers nifty little ways to avoid facing that which we need to face 😉.
Letting our Level guide the way
Also, when our personality type is not taken into account, of course advice or practices that help one person can be toxic to someone else. We need to take our personality into consideration — but also, we need to find practices that work for the levels of ego-identification we are currently grappling with. But when we do that, it’s more interesting what Level we are currently coming from than where our general centre of gravity is located.
Because even though we have such a “centre of gravity”, we also fluctuate in the levels throughout our everyday week, day, or sometimes even hour. Things happen in the outside world that affect not our psychological maturity and ego-identification in the long run, but the psychological maturity and ego-identification we are operating from in this moment. And that might be a lot easier for us to nail down than our current centre of gravity — especially in retrospect when we reflect back on our day or week. To this end, it is immensely valuable to orientate ourselves on the vertical axis of the Levels “on purpose” so that when crap hits and the ego launches a hard campaign, we’re ready.
Because of this — and because the Enneagram world is shock full of type descriptions and tests but doesn’t offer a lot of resources that actually guide us towards growth — I put together a booklet on “climbing the levels” — that is, cultivating presence, lessening the grip of automatic ego-pilot and personality fixations in a way that takes into account what tends to work on a particular level. The booklet is a compact piece in that it’s only just over 13 000 words, but it contains high calibre suggestions for inner work, as well as brief descriptions of the levels themselves.
Since the suggestions don’t so much cover what material to work on (as that would be specific to type, and even more so, to the individual), but rather what type of exercises and approaches might be more helpful on which level, there are also reminders of which sort of fears and desires are likely to feature for a certain personality type at a specific level.
Should you want to really dive into this material experientially, you might want to check out the interactive online course Exploring, climbing and experiencing the Levels of Development starting September 4:th and running for 10 Sundays. In this course, we will explore each level relevant to inner work in turn, and we will look at what modes and formats best addresses the issues at each level. (The booklet is included in the course, and if you have it already and want to sign up, send me a message and ask for a personal discount link!)
Let’s see what emerges …
Also, it’s highly likely that I will put together an online course or individual session program (or both) to match the booklet , depending on the interest. Stay tuned (perhaps by registering a free membership on lyckowbackman.se) — and, if you like, do get cracking with the booklet! 😊❤️
The way lots of people treat the Enneagram today feels to me like the equivalent of returning to a grocery store over and over, in order to develop your skills in naming and identifying every last article in there and knowing exactly where to find each one. Sure, you can to that — but it’s not what the grocery store is for, and you will eventually starve. To live, you need to move on from mere identification to actually purchasing the foods, taking them home, and letting them nourish you.
Sadly, it seems like the larger Enneagram conversation has become more and more about identifications and definitions, and less about actual integration. With social media and online activities comes increased reach, which is fantastic. However, with the same batch of gifts we also get fluff. On Youtube and Facebook, the fluff of the Enneagram — people asking what type others (strangers!) think they might be, tell others (still strangers) what type they believe they are, or endlessly discussing what this or that teacher says and whether this means one of them is wrong — is rife.
The other day, for what I think is the first time ever in 22 years of studying and living with the Enneagram model, I did a YouTube search just for “Enneagram”, to see what came up. And basically, what came up was an never-ending row of descriptions. Lightweight as well as fuller-depth, brief as well as more extensive. Of the types overall, of Enneagram types in movies/books/history, of high/low sides of [insert your type of choice], and on and on and on. Interviews, illustrations, funny bits. So, types.
Of course, learning about the types is important. If we don’t learn about the types, the model makes no sense. But on either side of that are two other very important areas, which, once you’ve got the basic type-descriptions in place, is where the magic happens.
These two areas are so important, they will get their own headline.
The two Very Important Areas
One is learning about the model as a whole. What “type” means and defines, and what it doesn’t. How wings, arrows, groups and developmental levels matter — and how they don’t. Because the question is seldom whether, but in what way; at what plane. But often, people are so eager to collect information about the Enneagram and its types that they forgot to find out what this information means. (I’ve written about this before, in posts like Did you only learn it, or did you actually get it? The importance of zooming out, A bunch of characteristics or an energetic climate — some thoughts on traits, behaviours and type descriptions and When the Enneagram presence runneth over — the challenges and gifts of expanded reach, among others.)
And the other — the most important thing without which none of the other stuff helps even a little bit — is learning about ourselves. What resonates and how; what that means, what it doesn’t mean. What the truth is beneath our masks, strategies, rationalisations, and urges. Who we are, at our deepest core, and who we’re not; what’s actually us and what is mostly our vehicle for transport here on Earth, the interface via which we interact with the world. All this, and so much more.
Enneagram life outside of the VIAs
Without insights into these two areas, the Enneagram becomes little more than a party trick — a cool system for quickly getting insights into a person and their motivations. (That is, this is what it could be in theory; however, becoming a good enough “stand-up Enneagram typist” would likely in reality require quite a bit of knowledge about these two areas, too. So the likely use for the Enneagram at said hypothetical party would probably be more like telling cool anecdotes about someone else’s uncanny ability to quickly suss out these things.)
Of course, I don’t know what the posters of such fluff on social media do with the Enneagram when they’re at home; how deeply they delve within themselves. But my guess is, if it were at all deep, they would post about other things online 😎.
This state of affairs sometimes frustrates me. Wake up!!! I want to yell to these posters — who have quite possibly just never been shown what the Enneagram can be; what insights it really has to offer once we get past the initial, typology-related fascination. I want to point them to where the real fascination is to be had. Unfortunately, though, that place is inside of them — and the willingness to go there, stop, breathe and find out about oneself really has to come from within. So then I remember that my job — rather than make everyone see it my way, which is of course tempting 😉 — is to keep posting stuff, creating content and offering courses for those who do want this inner exploration and true Enneagram insight, and trust that whoever is meant to find it will. (Are you someone who just did, and want to find more? Please register for a free membership and access to the Members’ area.)
Because these things — the two Very Important Areas — continue to inspire and fascinate me, and fuel my love for the Enneagram. So if you want to explore, experience and excavate the deepest truths about yourself, together with some of what this model means — all against the backdrop of type awareness and insights about their dynamics, but not in abstract theorizing about them — I think we’ll get along just swimmingly 😊❤️
Sometimes, people say that they have to “access their Nine” (when perhaps they mean “chill”) or “awaken their One” (when perhaps they mean getting organised or doing whatever they do more meticulously). But we can all chill, and we can all be thorough. So when is it actually relevant to discuss “accessing” other types within, and when is it just short-code for bunches of traits?
One aspect of the “Zooming out” approach to the Enneagram that I like to advocate for is distinguishing between us behaving, reasoning or feeling like another type and us exhibiting aspects of the deeper core structures of that same type. For instance, if we “go to” our designated point of stress/disintegration, we tend to believe we are experiencing what that type is typically experiencing. But most often, we are not. Rather, we are borrowing an inner or outer dynamic from that type, while still functioning very much out of our own type’s core motivations and fears.
Why is this important? Well, as far as getting to know ourselves, it’s not, really. After all, inner work means working with whatever you find in the moment, whichever personality type it’s considered as belonging to. But as far as understanding the Enneagram and its types, it does make a difference. If you are a Nine “going to Six”, you might well have a strong inner Six and experience the core structures of point Six. But it might also be the case that you, still very much from a Nine core space, exhibit typical Six traits from a distinctly Ninish position. In case of the latter, if you believe you now understand the Six from within, you have limited your perspective on point Six and what it means to have that as your core personality structure.
Nowadays, there’s much talk about “inhabiting [or experiencing or allowing or developing] all the types”, and this is beautiful. We do have traits, abilities, challenges, possibilities and aspects of most, if not all, of the Enneagram points. But this is not the same as experiencing their innermost dilemmas, fears and/or psychological conditions. And if I assume it to be, I’m going to arrogantly assume I know what it means to live from all these different points — whereas, in reality, my understanding isn’t nearly as deeply anchored as I might think.
Surface similarities that only go skin deep
This doesn’t even have to be a wing point, or an arrow. For myself, when I look at, say, point Three (a point with which my core Eight has no visible connection on the Enneagram, but which I nonetheless often recognise traits from), I can check a number of things that I do, feel and think that seem distinctly “Threeish”. But when I look at the Three’s “why”, however, the likeness stops. My Eight ego doesn’t want to be the best to be validated or admired or have my worthiness confirmed — it wants to be the best so that I won’t be questioned. And when my ego “phones in its personality pattern” in a conversation with someone, instead of showing up fully and being emotionally accountable, it’s not so much to present a likeable image (which would be the Three motivation) but rather to make sure there’s no opening for the other getting close to me beyond what their intimacy paygrade allows for. And so on, and so forth. It looks, and feels, Threeish. If I were talking to a Three about these different behaviours, we could very well be in full agreement about what we do and how it feels. But in my case, the inner control central is still very much run by point Eight, and if we were to explore our deeper motivations, we’d find different fears and desires at the root of said behaviour.
Then, I might go to my Seven wing and look at the dynamics there. Here I might recognise, say, the tendency to acknowledge a feeling, identifying it and possibly seeing what it’s really about, only to have the ego go, “check!” and continue about its business, considering the matter handled. When I look at the deeper dynamics, this time I might realise that yes, it is the Seven dynamics I’m seeing: I just don’t want to go there in case I never find my way out. I need to keep swimming, lest I sink. In this case, it’s fair to say that there is a splash of Seven core dynamics to my Eight. If I go and look at the Nine, I do see patterns that I recognise there, too — but, as with the Three, not below the surface.
Enough respect to really listen …
I’m not saying this means we cannot understand types which we don’t share deep core structures with. We can. Increased self-knowledge, along with increased knowledge of all the types, makes that possible. But it gets much more possible if we realise we don’t necessarily understand deep Two dynamics just because we sometimes feel clingy, are people-oriented or want to help others out — even if it is to our detriment. We still need to look deeper — and also, likely, have a number of deeper conversations with some Twos 😉. When we respect others (including others of our own type, of course) enough to be willing to listen — rather than just assuming we already know all we need to know — true understanding can deepen and integrate.
… also makes room for really learning
Once we start understanding the types this way — from within, as it were — we can also begin to open up to their best features and capacities in ourselves. Inviting the capacities of type Two, Six or whichever type it might be, we open to these capacities within ourselves. We don’t need to try and mimic the Nine for inner peace, the Three for efficiency or the Two for actually caring about others; we can find these qualities within ourselves, as they are human qualities, not exclusive to any type. Mimicking something that I perceive as “not me” is hard work, and so is trying to be something I’m not. And that’s the beauty of it — it’s not that we “become” these types by truly understanding them, nor that we “go beyond” our own type. We only — but miraculously — grow, evolve and become more whole ❤️.
Members only Bonus
As members-only material (membership is free and you can register here), there is a type-centred reflection for each type, category Surface or core? You can contemplate the (totally arbitrarily selected) aspect of said type, explore to what extent you recognise it and to what extent you do also, in fact, recognise the core dynamics beneath the surface behaviour, reasoning or reactivity. There are no rights or wrongs. Reflections are very welcome (and please share your type if you comment).
Did you hear about the notion that you can be either positively negatively identified with any instinctual drive — regardless of where this drive features in your preferential “stack”? Here I’ll say something about this perspective and point to some of the common misunderstandings that make this information seem like a game-changer when it comes to understanding the instincts.
My response to some questions I’ve encountered on this topic has had my thoughts go in two directions: One, what it means that an instinct is dominant or leading, and two, what is and is not part of “instinct“ in the first place — and how both of these things need some looking into. Let’s start with looking at the former.
The “doing it well” misunderstanding
The most common aha!-type realisation people share together with this material is that they didn’t think they were leading with a certain instinct as they were performing so badly at it, or at parts of it. So here’s the first thing we need to understand is that having a “dominant” instinct: it does not mean that you’re necessarily acing the arena that this particular drive is handling. As one example, I’ve seen strongly self-pres dominant people who were anorexics. Now, I think we can all agree that anorexia isn’t an efficient way to “self-preserve”, whatever spin we put on it. So leading with a certain instinct does not equal having no issues in that department.
But if it’s not excellence — then what is the tell?
But then what does it mean to be leading with self-preservation — or, for that matter, sexual, or social adaptation? It means its realm of focus is getting VIP treatment from your neurology. It means who- or whatever is running your system is happy to allocate band-width, resources, and focus (and also, most likely, cash 😉) towards ends and endeavours within that realm of existence — whereas the realm of our so-called blind-spot (that is, our least favoured or resourced drive) gets short-changed. A drive dominating means that you, or something within you, prefers devoting time and energy to it over the other two. It does not, however, promise an impressive return of investment.
Also, when I read the descriptions of positive and negative identification with the sexual drive (which is easily my strongest instinctual faculty), the description of positive identification does not resonate with how my life has been, and most certainly not if I look at my younger self. But the thing is, not only was I leading heavily with sx this whole time, but the Magnetism zone (i e the part of this drive concerning things like attraction, interests, instinctual competition and “peacock” display”, which for some reason seems to become the focus of the identification in the descriptions) is one of my two strongest zones overall. While I seem to qualify as a “negatively identified” sx dominant according to the descriptions, there is not a test, a course or any known teaching about the instincts that would have put me anywhere but as leading with the sexual instinct.
The true face of a “dominant” instinct
The point of sharing the above information is that when an instinct dominates, this will show. There is no such thing someone leading with a certain instinct, just with such a strongly negative identification that the dominance is not visible. Yet, that is the sort of conclusion I often see people drawing, quoting some version of this identification theory: “I was afraid of the opposite sex, I had zero success in relationships and basically just dreamed about my beloved — but now I can see I have been leading with sexual all along, I was just negatively identified.” And, sure, it’s possible that you were — as leading with sx doesn’t mean you always score, or think you look a million dollars.
But then again, possibly not. Anyone can long for a significant other, or yearn from afar, regardless of where the sexual drive features in their instinctual preferences. The question to ask in such cases is, in what other ways does the leading focus on attraction and expansion show up? Are you an intense person, to the extent that sometimes others find it irritating? Do you tend to “go all in” when you focus on something? Are you, or something within you, competitive by nature, even when you don’t wish to compete? Of course you don’t have to tick all the boxes for any drive to be dominant — but my point is, again, that a leading instinct will make itself known.
To me, the concept of instinctual zones, first established by Russ Hudson, sheds a lot of light on how differently our instinctual preferences can manifest, even in the same instinctual realm. I might be highly interested in self-care while also being totally bored by anything concerning finances — both of which are areas covered by the self-preservation drive. Or, I might be very adept at reading people and interested in recruiting them for various causes, yet lack all interest when it comes to maintaining my own personal relationships — all of which pertains to the realm of social adaptation. Et cetera. Also, as I mentioned, we might be “good” or “bad” at the various skills that each instinct brings — but regardless, if it’s strong, we will devote lots of resources and focus to it. The zones straighten a lot of question marks in this arena, and if you want to get into the zones material, feel free to check out the Understanding the Instincts course.
So should I not bother with the identification bit, then?
Well, here is where the second direction of response comes in: the distinguishing of instinct from what we might for now call “personality stuff”. There is nothing inherently wrong with looking at yourself from the identification-with-the-instincts perspective; if you feel it gets your inner work forward, please go ahead. However, my concern is that the single biggest obstacle that seems to stop people from really “getting the instincts” — understanding what they are, seeing their own preferences and using these insights for deepening their inner work — is that the concept of instinct is constantly meshed together with the concept of personality. The instinctual preferences, or the “instinctual stack” that might be of use for us to discover is not an aspect of personality, but something prior to that. This means that any identification happening around them is secondary.
So viewing the drives in the light of positive/negative identification already puts the spin of personality onto them. Of course, things like self-esteem or personal experiences strongly influence our identifications, but neither of these things are, in themselves, aspects of the instinctual faculties. I’m not staying we can’t be positively or negatively identified, or even that, as human beings, personality and history aren’t great influences. Of course we can, and of course they are.
Distinguishing what’s useful — and for what it’s useful
So sure, it can be useful to work therapeutically with such identifications. However, it is does not really shed any additional light on the instinctual drives and their place in our inner work, but rather risks confusing the matter further. My experience is that once we integrate this understanding, it gets much easier to see what’s instinctual and not and how we can approach our inner findings and experiences. But before this clarity has settled, it’s likely that an undifferentiated cocktail of ego personality, personal history and instinctual expressions will just add to the confusion (or worse, be “confuseful”: lend itself to inner work but still keep us in the dark about the deeper structures and thus, essentially, having us walk in circles). And if our aim is making sense of either types, instincts and/or ourselves, that is obviously not very helpful.
Again, as so often, it seems the question is not whether something is true or useful, but rather in what way it is true or useful. If it is true in a way that is relevant to me and useful for what I want to accomplish, great. If not, I might want to look elsewhere to find something that is.
Understanding the instincts
When we want to understand the topic of instinct, and when we want to bring the awareness of them into our inner work, we first need to see them clearly for what they are — prior to our ego personality muddying the waters. If you want to delve into the instinctual realms, have an experiential awareness of the drives and understand what they are and how you can work with them, please join Understanding the Instincts, an interactive, 5-module online course starting September 12:th ❤️.
PS — In my experience, a popular drive to be misidentified as the lead when looking at it through this filter is the sexual instinct. My best tips for sussing out where it ranks in your preferential “stack” is, like I mentioned briefly above, looking at the aspects of your life that do not involve relationships, love or sex. How does this drive show up in your life in general? In your level of intensity? In your take on hobbies or projects? In your work? Expressions of the sexual instinct that are only discernible in the context of love relationships are often just a sign that this instinct is alive and well (as it should be) — not that it’s necessarily on top of your overall preferences.