Enneagram Insights: The Law of Three Reflected in the Triangle of the Enneagram

March 21, 2022

Over the last twenty years, the Enneagram has gained greater public recognition in the United States. It is increasingly common to hear people speak of the Enneagram “types,” with varying degrees of accuracy (myself included!). We know from our attention to the Law of One that there is much more than “type knowledge” to be gained from the Enneagram. As a holistic system, the Enneagram invites us inside ourselves to notice, through a loving lens, the ways we navigate life. It then suggests alternatives, should we be interested. 

The implications of the Law of One (that everything belongs) for how we live could fill a book, but we are going to pivot and look at the second of three laws reflected in the Enneagram: the Law of Three. This law is imaged by the triangle nestled within the circle. 

The Law of Three is the Enneagram’s reminder of the truth that decision making, and conflict resolution are less Either/Or operations than Both/And operations. It is a great temptation to take the quicker Either/Or route and, in so doing, to simply eliminate what we oppose. If this were possible, why would we not do so? The Law of Three, positioned right smack in the middle of the Enneagram, is a constant reminder that this Either/Or approach does not actually deliver on what it promises, that is, a durable resolution. 

The truth is we do not have the power to eliminate what we are opposed to. But we do have the power to work with it. The Both/And represents an alternative to the Either/Or approach, taking what both voices bring and making a third thing, a third way forward. 

Over this month and the next, we will follow the Law of Three, looking more deeply into this invitation within the Enneagram. For now, let’s notice our Either/Ors and begin to wonder how they might be limiting us as we seek resolution. -Sali