Enneagram Insights: The Law of Three and Both/And

We have been exploring the Law of Three represented by the triangle held squarely in the middle of the Enneagram’s circle, listening for the wisdom it wants us to take hold of and practice. Last time we left off with the “tug of influence” happening between point 3’s “Yes!” and point 6’s “No1”. And remember from our last Insight, we all practice both “yes” and “no” views at many points in life. Also keep in mind that there are no “good guys” or “bad guys” here; these are different, unique voices. Yet they can make for an impasse that often becomes a final—though less durable —resolution. 

Luckily, this is where point 9 enters the story line, dropping down into point 3 and point 6’s back and forth of what can feel like opposing truths. The 9 moves into this opposition with a beautiful, albeit difficult, Both/And

We have highlighted the opposing stands point 3 and point 6 represent and the (partial) truth represented by each, but what of this Both/And point 9 brings? What is this all about? 

Metaphors abound to help us appreciate the effect of the point 9 here. One I particularly like is visualizing point 3 and point 6 as a boat and sail respectively and 9 as the wind. The boat will go nowhere, the sail will be of no use, without the effect of the wind to pull it all together, to bring the best of each to the act of moving forward. The boat is not enough, the sail is not enough—yet both are needed. What makes their gifts come together to make something happen is the wind. Point 9 shines a flashlight on what both bring, pulling out what is needed and letting go of what is not. To be sure this shining, inviting forward, and letting go, is often unwelcome by the voices at points 3 and 6 or by you and me. We get stuck in our truth, protective to the death–afraid that if you win, I lose. So, we double down, with our hands over our ears, and lose so much. Next time we’ll explore what we might have to gain if we allow point 9’s Both/And to get through to us.