This chart helps to identify key obstacles to
growth for Ennea-type Four. The chart below
suggests remedies to remove those obstacle.
Learning to use these charts is a big part of the
ELI Level One certification.

Someone asked me recently to explain the relationship between the three Enneagrams I teach, specifically as related to the Four, her Ennnea-type. The first Enneagram is the Enneagram of strategies–nine approaches to solving problems around which our personalities constellate. The third Enneagram is the Enneagram of core qualities–nine fundamental qualities of human nature. These qualities are immature in us when we are born and their growth is often stunted during the socialization process; creating circumstances in which these qualities can mature is a critical part of our work on ourselves. In between these two, the second Enneagram, is the Enneagram of accelerators–practices that help us create those circumstances.


The Three Enneagrams, along with the instincts/subtypes and the Awareness to Action Process, are the focus of my Level One Certification Program, the Enneagram for Professional Users. Taken together, these five elements form a very robust model of working with oneself and others that can be useful to coaches, consultants, therapists, and spiritual directors. The images that accompany this post are the diagnostic and remedial charts that program attendees learn to use in their work with others.

Q: Can you explain the relationship between “striving to be unique,” the core quality of individuality, and the accelerator of individuation? How can I use these to grow?


The core quality at Point Four is “individuality.” We are all born as individuals, unlike anyone else. Our footprints and fingerprints are unique, our DNA is different from everyone else’s, our circumstances—the time, place, family situation of our birth—are ours and no one else’s. Early in life, we have no thought to compare ourselves to others, and we see the world through our perspective, and ours alone. Eventually, however, our individuality becomes stunted—we start to see ourselves in comparison to others and, in many ways, as a reflection of others. We start to take on the characteristics of our family and our culture; we lose sight of where “the true Me” ends and the influences of others begins. We can’t tell what is “originally me” and what is the influence of others. We give in to the pressures from others to conform and be a productive part of the group, but we feel the loss of the “true self,” who we are independent of the influences of others.

We use the strategy of striving to be unique to differentiate ourselves from others, but this rebellious form of differentiation is just as false as the belief that we are not our own individual self. It creates artificial and manufactured differences rather than helping us become comfortable with the natural and true differences. It is based on a fear that we are not individuals, rather than a valid reaction to our situation. Fours become trapped in a pattern of constantly comparing and contrasting themselves to others, especially important people in our early holding environment, such as their parents. Fours can become either falsely identified with the Other or they are constantly obsessing over how they are not like the Other, when in many ways they are. They become lost in this false battle for separation and identity rather than relaxing into the true individuality that they already possess. Ironically, the more the Four rebels, the more they prove that they are still trapped in their identifications. Every time we say “I am NOT like him or her” we demonstrate that we are not experiencing true individuality as a core quality, because core individuality has nothing to prove, it simply is and unaffected by the perception of the other.

Individuation is the process of truly becoming our unique self and, in this situation, letting go of comparison and contrast. I say “in this situation” because I mean this a little bit differently than Jung did. I believe Jung was a Four and his ideas shaped by some of the striving to be unique that undermines the Four and blocks them from core Individuality. I also don’t like to talk about an “original self” because there is nothing to return to, we are constantly becoming something new, something that we were not before. The core qualities exist in immature form at our birth; we do not want to return to them, we want to nurture them and allow them to mature. (Ken Wilber refers to this belief that we must go back to something as the “pre-trans fallacy,” the misidentification of the immature state as the enlightened state, the habit of attempting to go backwards toward some essential aspect rather than going forward.)

The work of the accelerator starts with a cognitive acceptance of the fact that we are already unique and don’t have to continually try to prove it. We simply have to be, not strive. The practice is in letting go—each time you see yourself trapped in your identification with the Other, you let go of it and settle back into the place of not needing to compare. The accelerator in this case is a matter of not doing rather than doing something.

The practice of the accelerators at Points One and Two are useful supplements to individuation. The accelerator of acceptance at Point One helps us to remember that things are what they are and no matter how frustrated we become, how angry, we cannot change the moment. But we can change future moments, and individuality is to work to create that change with a spirit of equanimity. Empathy, the accelerator at point Two, helps us to see others as individuals, and to understand their circumstances and situation. When we do this, the need to compare starts to fall away even more.

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