lynette sheppardEnergy. It sounds like a woo-woo term, indistinct, ineffable. Not measurable nor quantifiable. We don’t easily have language to describe it. Yet, anyone who has seen Enneagram panels or groups of a particular type has felt it. Ones will tell a similar story, even use similar language. And they will share an energetic. Ditto for the other eight types. So the imperfect descriptors of language must be brought into play to describe energy as best we can, in order to gain a fuller picture of type.

The dictionary uses substance, intensity, spirit, and strength as synonyms for the word energy. We might even use the word vibration. We notice an energetic of each person we meet, though we usually don’t use the word energy to describe them. We might say “s/he really takes up a lot of space.” “I feel uplifted and excited just being around them.” “It feels like s/he doesn’t have much flexibility, once a decision’s been made.” It’s like his body’s in the room, but he’s somewhere else.”

These statements are all descriptions of energetic states that we sense. Feeling and sensing our environment are aspects of emotional intelligence and natural to us as human beings. We can also sense the energy of other people. And each of the Enneagram types has its own particular energetic. It is as if each of us has a force field that contains our energy or life force.

Each triad of the Enneagram is driven by an emotion linked to the primary intelligence center. The gut triad (8, 9, 1) is driven by anger, the head triad (5, 6, 7) by fear, and the heart triad (2,3, 4) by grief. Individual types within each triad play out the emotion in a different manner. In each group of three, one type externalizes the emotion, one type internalizes the emotion, and the third type has “forgotten” that emotion. The underlying emotion and the primary center of intelligence seem to ‘create’ the energy or force field of each of the type. Therefore the energy or force field is embodied very differently by each of the Enneagram types.

In attempting to recognize another person’s type, sensing their energy or force field can be invaluable. We all may embody all the traits and characteristics of the Enneagram types at different times or in different situations. The energy we feel from another can give us clues as to how they come at the world and narrow down their type for us.

Let’s examine descriptions of each type and how their energy or ‘force field’ feels to the rest of us. In so doing, we gain another map reading tool in finding another individual’s type on the Enneagram map. Meeting another and honoring his/her energies vis a vis Enneagram type may also avail us of a profound tool for understanding and connecting.

Discovering Type Through Energy

Perhaps you recognize acquaintances, friends, and family from the descriptions of their energy or force fields. It may even have been easier to find their Enneagram type via energy than the descriptions of external and internal terrain. Taken together, these two parts of the map (energy and terrain descriptions) help us to discover another’s type and worldview.

It may be more difficult for us to be aware of our own energy. After all, we’re experiencing it from the inside rather than receiving its effect on the outside. It may be helpful to ask family and close friends how they experience us, to get a fuller picture of how our energy might specifically be perceived by others. That will give us more data than the general information about energy and type we’ve explored above.

The descriptions of energy outlined above come from interviews with people of all types regarding how they experience the other eight Enneagram points. As we continue refining our map of the force fields, more input is needed. Please join the conversation and contribute your own insights and experience here in the comment section.


Lynette Sheppard has taught the Enneagram for over 25 years. She is the author of “The Everyday Enneagram” and moderates  the popular Everyday Enneagram Blog.