Dependent Stance: Introduction

I still remember the whirlwind that was my first year at college. I was so busy trying to manage life’s external tasks that I failed to engage the depth of college life that first year.[1]Instead of engaging new ideas and converting them into convictions, I spent that first year of college learning how to juggle friendships, sleep, laundry, and classes. I was so focused on navigating my external reality that I continued to live off recycled beliefs and convictions inherited from parents, teachers and others back home, rather than delving into the world of critical thinking that was present at every turn. Thankfully, by my sophomore year, I had acclimated enough to my new environment and began to engage the new ideas proclaimed in the classroom and the convictions lived out in the residence hall. 

Like so many students in their first year of college, the Enneagram’s Dependent Stance (Ones, Twos, and Sixes) are so controlled by the present situation that they struggle to think productively. Instead of thinking, they busy themselves by feeling and doing. Ones respond by doing what should be done right now. Twos respond by feeling the emotions of others then meeting the needs of the person in front of them; and Sixes respond by meeting the demands of the day’s schedule and responsibilities.  

Many Dependent Stance Types would object to the notion that they are thinking repressed. The claim sounds as if I am denying their intelligence. However, their intelligence is not in question. Ones, Twos, and Sixes can be as intelligent as anyone, but they struggle more than other types to think productively. Productive thinking is the act of moving from one ideological position to new one. This mental activity is distinctive because it generates new insights and comes to new conclusions. Regardless of your type, reflect for a minute on how much of your cognitive activity fits this criterion. Most of the time our mind is filled with unproductive racket—replaying earlier conversations, ruminating on tired old opinions, stewing over tomorrow’s to-do list. All Enneagram Types are caught up in meaningless internal chatter and would do well to think more productively, but this is especially important work for Ones, Twos, and Sixes. 

The Dependent Stance struggles to think productively about themselves so they set external standards to assure the quality of their performance. These static standards, however, fail to meet life’s complexity, causing them unnecessary burden. The standards generate opinions (underdeveloped thinking) that are placed on others, causing them to be overly critical. They inevitably fail to think through whether or not their standards are appropriate for themselves or others. All of this causes relational turmoil in the groups they belong to, and they more than many other types desire harmony in their social world. 

The Dependent Stance is faced with these challenges and more. What should they do? How can they grow spiritually? This series of posts will seek to name the unique compulsions of each Dependent Enneagram Type because we cannot intentionally cooperate with God’s transforming work in our lives if we do not name our compulsions. I look forward to walking alongside you in this journey.  


[1]People tend to think that the typical high school student goes to college and immediately begin to experiment with new beliefs, and behaviors. However, research has shown that radical experimentation is generally out of character for first year undergraduates and it certainly was not the case for me. See the The First Year Out: Understanding American Teens after High School by Tim Clydesdale.