Aggressive Stance: Three

All great models of human persons agree that there are three basic intelligences that give us modes of being in the world. These modes of intelligence are thinking, feeling and doing. All Enneagram types place thinking, feeling and doing in one of the three categories-- preferred/dominant, repressed and supporting. The Enneagram’s aggressive stance is organized around their shared repression of the feeling center. 

Unfortunately, your preferred center only sees one third of the human experience and it sees the other two thirds as unimportant. As you wear your preferred “lenses,” you neglect to see and develop the other two centers to your own detriment. Developing your repressed center is some of the most important and difficult Enneagram work. Therefore, this series of posts will focus on how the aggressive stance can nurture their center of feeling intelligence.

Enneagram type Three is more complex than the rest of the aggressive stance because their feeling center is simultaneously dominant and repressed; they also use doing and thinking to support feeling.  This means that Threes take in information through the feeling center, but they do not respond with feelings. They respond, instead, with thinking and doing. Threes see the world through the feeling center, but they do not use feelings to process or make sense of the information that they receive. Consequently, they are acutely aware of other people’s feelings, needs, expectations and motives; this awareness, however, is centered around their own image and how they are being perceived by others. In other words, their perceptive awareness of those around them has little to do with the other people, and mostly stems from a Three’s desire to observe their own image as others see them – as if they are looking to others responses as one would look into a mirror.

Threes read a feeling, but they do not interpret those feelings with their feeling center of intelligence and this causes them to misinterpret feelings. They walk into a room and they take a feeling in, but they set their own feelings aside to interpret the feeling that they have just taken in. This is like walking into a room and hearing a sentence in French, but setting aside your entire knowledge of the French language in order to interpret it. You cannot understand the language this way. Consequently, Threes do not know what feelings represent or what they are supposed to do with them because they do not interpret the feeling. They process the feeling with thinking and doing. As a result, they are outwardly personable, but inwardly distant and impersonal and their repressed feeling center causes them to become quickly bored and impatient when others are expressing feeling. Threes suspend their feelings, setting them aside in their effort to be productive, efficient and ultimately successful. 

Threes, when you leave out feelings you dismiss the importance of feelings and interpersonal relationships. You miss out on the rich connections that can aid your in your search for authenticity. Become more aware of your feelings. 

Awareness is key. You are a master at setting your feelings aside. Instead, try to practice naming them and holding them – they are yours and they are a meaningful part of you. My wife, a Three, asks herself “What am I feeling?” during specific routines during her day (walking into work, getting ready in the morning, etc.). These routines and rituals helps her to remember to stay in touch with her feelings around times when she is most likely to set them aside.

You can also grow your feeling intelligence through focusing on your chest during meditation until your chest feels warm and heavy. Spiritual writer, David Benner, points out that, “Whenever our ties to our body are tenuous our ties to reality are even more fragile.” This is true specifically for your chest, which is the bodily center for the feeling intelligence. If you are a Three who feels tension in your chest, this may be a particularly beneficial exercise towards growth and peace