In my book Aspects of you I explain the three instinctual drives in quite some depth and also mention the zones of each one — zones that can sometimes seem contradictory, but which nonetheless clearly stem from the same drive; the same end goal and focus.
Here, I’ll go through them briefly so that anyone who took the Instinctual Preferences Sorting Session can have an idea what we’re talking about until you get your hands on the book, in case you dove in at the deep end and didn’t read it first 😎. I expect you to have overall knowledge about the drives as such (and of you do not or it all feels unclear, the book is a good place to start 😉).
This was enlightening! The course clarified and expanded on the contents of the book that were clear to me immediately. I thoroughly enjoyed Cicci and her presentation of the material. She is an engaging person with an immense depth of knowledge.
Kim Rammel,USA, about the online course Understanding the Instincts
The zone descriptions below are shortened accounts lifted out of and adapted from the book.
The self-preservation instinct
As for the origins of and general scope of this drive, you might want to view the introductory webinar Understanding the instincts (or, of course, take the course endorsed above 😉). When you have a general grasp of the scope of the self-preservation drive is and what realm of awareness it pertains to, the below zone descriptions will make more sense.
Health & Well-Being —
a self-pres zone
Probably, you know someone who takes a great interest in their own health. Maybe this is you? People who make sure to exercise, who are aware of what kind of food that works best for them, who are mindful of getting enough sleep — or at least, they are aware of the consequences if they don’t. These people are likely to have a strong Health & Well-Being zone.
The name of this zone is quite self-explanatory: it involves the body, its needs and its state of health. If this zone is strong in someone, he or she is likely to care about things like nutrition, hydration, exercise, and getting enough rest and sleep. This zone will also help people be aware of issues around comfort, routines and keeping the status quo.
A dominance in this zone will not necessarily mean that you are extraordinarily healthy, or even as healthy as you could be under the circumstances. The fact that we are obsessively focussed upon something does not necessarily bring us the right information to make intelligent choices. Thus, being strong in whatever instinct or zone does not automatically equal excelling at it.
Practicality & Resources —
a self-pres zone
Some people just seem to know how stuff works, or picked up early on to change fuses or pay their bills. They could be called “resource managers” – and they devote quite a bit of time and energy to these areas in life. This zone has a slightly more preparatory and “once-removed” nature than health & well-being. At the same time, it’s still very hands-on, being, as the name states, concerned with practicality.
One obvious expression is how we deal with money and finances, and if we score high in this zone, we are likely to be concerned with these things. Other resources are time and personal energy: if this zone is strong, time is likely to be a respected asset, and I will often be more aware than people in general of my own energy supplies and how to handle them wisely, lest they get depleted.
Another aspect of this zone is handiness. There’s often an affinity for practical matters, and people who are strong in this zone tend to easily understand the mechanics of things, and are often curious about them. Also, there will be a higher degree of stamina in achieving long-term goals; an understanding of the notion of delayed gratification.
Domesticity & Home life —
a self-pres zone
Some people know how to make a room feel homey, comfortable, safe, contemporary, or whatever their personal preference might be — and this zone is about our home life; about being bothered to have and take care of one in the first place, and about using the home as something more than just a roof over our heads and a place to put our stuff. This is the “den” in the animal kingdom, which in our human world has more complex functions and aspects.
It’s also about the functionality and structure in our home. We might like to handle our washing a certain way, or sort our books alphabetically (or by size, or cover colour), as well as taking care of the home by maintenance and household chores. Safety and security feature here, too, and we are likely to know where our things are and how to prevent them from being broken, lost or stolen.
Something that might stand out, too, is the holding quality of our home, or what we might call the “Ahh, I’m home”-factor. Often, this also means that the home will be a favourite place to hang out with friends; “When you get to know my home, it’s like you are getting to know me.”
The sexual instinct
As for the origins of and general scope of this drive, you might want to view the webinar Understanding the instincts (or, of course, take the course endorsed above 😉). The sexual instinct, seen for what it actually is and from an evolutionary perspective, is rather different from how a lot of today’s presentations make it come across! When you have a general grasp of the scope of the sexual drive is and what realm of awareness it pertains to, the below zone descriptions will make more sense.
Magnetism & Conquering —
a sexual zone
Some people tend to get noticed — either because of their choice of attire or other physical attributes, or by the sheer energy that surrounds them, the “vibe” they give off. This zone is about the awareness of attraction: your own powers of attraction as well as how you attract others. This can often have a visual component; it’s not that you necessarily want to look pretty — but whatever you’ve wear, you are likely to have chosen it quite deliberately.
You are aware, too, of what attracts you, and you are likely to often follow up on that (quite possibly to a higher degree than what’s actually good for you). It is easy for people high in this zone to know their preferences, to choose and discriminate.
It’s also likely that we find some (or a lot of) competitiveness here. It is not primarily about needing to overtly compete and beat others on record; rather, it comes naturally to read an element of competition into all kinds of situations, which creates the impulse to strive to conquer — even in quite mundane contexts where you would not necessarily choose to act on the impulse.
Exploration & Activation —
a sexual zone
This zone is about when something wakes you up — flips a switch, alerts you that something of interest (or something worth all your attention) is happening. You are “on” — not on the lookout, as in the first zone, but rather as in “activated” and ready to launch.
You want to explore and experience things; extend yourself out into the world in different ways. It does not have to be about physical risk or a visible outward movement; it’s more about the charge of energy that shakes us up and rouses our nervous system in response to something: we feel alive. This zone looks for challenges and loves operating on the edge.
It is likely that we do enjoy the element of risk in itself (however we define it; it may be physical or not). We like a slightly increased pulse, and we quickly get bored if we stay within our comfort zone for too long. People with a high score in this zone also enjoy being “in the zone” (pun unintended), having exactly the right amount of provocation or stretching of our abilities, and we are also aware of timing — when to hold off, and when to give all.
Merging & Fusion —
a sexual zone
The merging zone is about totality and and engagement. Here, we focus and engage fully. We might expressly enjoy the feeling of our boundaries dissolving, of losing ourselves in something (or someone); people who are strong in the merging zone crave the feeling of pouring all their energy into something, as it makes them feel alive. Many a “I lose track of time writing my essay/listening to this piece of music/gazing at nature/immersing myself in this subject” has been uttered by frequent “mergers”.
I hold this zone accountable for much of the confusion that surrounds the sexual instinct, where many people (prominent teachers included) claim it’s about emotional intimacy or finding a life partner. This claim is misguided, as well as misleading. First of all, you can merge with all kinds of things that are not other people and don’t have emotions — such as nature, music or food. It’s about becoming one — which is obviously not the same as relating, intimately or not, as this requires two parties. And secondly, when the merging happens to be in relation to another person, of course merging can look like emotional intimacy (especially if there are also strong emotions involved; after all, these things rarely occur in isolation). But the distinctive charge and urgency of the sexual instinct is an instinctual thing, as in “of the gut” — whereas emotional intimacy clearly is not. Thus, the “urge to merge” is not the same as the longing for intimacy.
The social adaptation instinct
As for the origins of and general scope of this drive, you might want to view the webinar Understanding the instincts (or, of course, take the course endorsed above 😉). If the sexual drive is fraught with misunderstanding and misrepresentation in the Enneagram world, the drive for social adaptation does not come far behind; it’s just that the misunderstandings are of a slightly different nature. But usually, the presentations are significantly more narrow in scope and not capturing any of the subtler, more low-key aspects of this drive. When you have a general grasp of the scope of social adaptation is and what realm of awareness it pertains to, the below zone descriptions will make more sense.
Reading & Interpretation —
a social adaptation zone
Sometimes, we enter a room and immediately pick up a shift in atmosphere from the context we just came from, without consciously being aware of any visual or auditory clues. This is this zone in action. Here, we are strongly aware of others and what is going on with them, and empathy and caring are important parts of that. Also, we pick up discrepancies between what someone says and their facial expressions as well as things like body language and subtle behaviour, “reading between the lines” to see what is really going on.
Since the adaptation instinct as a whole is about adaptation to other(s), yet another aspect of the same zone would also be spontaneously adapting our behaviour to whatever we pick up. This goes for both small-scale and larger-scale contexts. If we’re strong in this zone, we naturally attune ourselves and adapt our behaviour if we encounter someone who is in an emotional space, or frame of mind, different from our own. We might also easily adapt to new sets of “social rules”, such as behaviours in a new family, (sub)culture or even a foreign country where the social codes are radically different from those we are used to. It just comes naturally to us to adapt.
Bonding & Affiliations —
a social adaptation zone
Some people cannot attend social events without emerging with at least five new connections which they follow up on in one way or another. It’s not about strategically collecting them, “should they come in handy one day” (although that might be part of it), but simply because they like people, talk with people and connect easily with others. In this zone, it’s about the relations we build — shorter or longer term. While someone who emphasizes the magnetism zone of the sexual instinct can be drawn to certain individuals, as a “bonder”, I’m drawn to people — full stop.
If this is a strong zone, I’m likely to have a large circle of friends and acquaintances that are still “warm” contacts and who I would not hesitate to call on if I thought they could be of assistance. Reciprocity and give-and-take belong here, too, and I am good at co-operation and like doing it. I often offer favours and get other favours offered in return, which I am happy to cash in on when needed. I appreciate the equalising quality of this exchange and the sense of community it builds.
Communication comes easily to me, and I instinctively know how to communicate differently with different people. Also, I probably like to play, and I’m likely to make playfulness and fun interactions in different forms a regular occurrence in my life.
Participation & Contribution —
a social adaptation zone
The last zone of the adaptation instinct is about being one individual in a larger context; being a part if, and contributing to, a bigger context, something larger than myself. Here, the focus clearly shifts from my relationships with others to the outcome of those; what we can accomplish together.
Here, it’s likely that the question of involvement shows up regularly in my life; to get engaged in a cause or not. (This is not to be confused with the engagement of the zone of SX merging; while in merging, it is about being all there in this moment, with a deep focus on — and energetic fusion with — one person or thing, the involvement of social adaptation is more about the investment over time.) Also, there might be a tendency to enroll (or attempt to enroll) others, too, in the causes I’m involved in myself. Akin to this is also something that might be called “contextual awareness”, the awareness of trends and tendencies coming and going, which tells me which trains are worth getting on and which are best left alone, as they are most likely heading into obscurity.
Another aspect of this zone is the feeling of belonging. I am or strive to be a part of a greater whole, and I’m likely to want to contribute something to the group or larger context — by family, my clan, my nation or the world. Note, again, that this doesn’t automatically mean the feeling of belonging comes easily to me; it just means I tend to invest energy and awareness with this matter.
Again, these descriptions will be best understood from the perspective on the drives offered in the video Understanding the instincts. Also, you might want to explore My 5 keys to understanding the instincts for more clarity on some of the differences between teachings about the instinctual drives and the perspective that the teachings here are arising out of.