New to the Enneagram? Here are your Fixations

Here are your fixations - Flemming Christensen

Even though the Enneagram can be much more than merely a tool for Personality Typing, this Typology approach remains one of the most common in the field, at least as an entry point to what can turn into a rich and fulfilling journey of self-awareness and awakening.

The first encounter

And so, for people encountering the Enneagram for the first time in this context of Typology, they invariably face the concept that (1) the model categorizes people into nine types, (2) that they fall into one of those types, and (3) that each type has something called Fixations & Passions, and their corresponding set of Holy Ideas & Virtues. And most importantly, (4) that the Fixations & Passions are on the low side of a scale, while Holy Ideas & Virtues are on the high side of that scale.


(Searching for your Fixations and Pasions in your Blind Enneagram Type)


From there, each school and teacher will proceed to flesh out these concepts, emphasizing that no one type is better than the other, that each person carries within them all these types, and highlighting the idea of “points” rather than types to emphasize the fluid nature of these characteristics within each individual. And there are quite a number of approaches that Enneagram teachers take to eventually lead the student or the recipient of this new knowledge to a more holistic understanding and compassionate view of self and others.


The 4 concepts

Yet, in my opinion, that set of 4 concepts I laid out above is not only a very common entry point to the Enneagram but also creates difficult obstacles within the mind of the recipient that the teachers and coaches then spend so much more time and energy to overcome. That is, if they are competent enough to begin with, not to mention the damage done when that approach is taken and not rectified down the line.


The obstacles and the damage I mean here could be stated as the following ideas forming in the mind of the student:


(1) I am one thing out of nine

(2) This thing that I am, my type, has been a great way to be so far in my life, but it is also the source of most of my agony.

(3) My Fixations & Passions are not good (low side), Holy Ideas & Virtues are good (high side)


And one more subtle idea

Since it’s easier to understand and grasp the Fixations & Passions because they are familiar and we can relate to them in our daily lives, while Holy Ideas & Virtues might not be very obvious and relatable on first encounter, new Enneagram students probably, in my opinion and experience, finds it easier to proceed with their development with the strategy of “overcoming their fixations” rather than building up to their Holy Ideas & Virtues; a strategy further supported by describing Fixations and Passions as obstacles or anchors that need to be removed or something that needs to be “cleaned up”.


I’m sure that anyone who has been working with the Enneagram for any significant period of time will have come across examples of what this mindset leads to once it is created (consciously or not) in the mind of students. It can cause a sense of guilt when they feel they can’t “eliminate” their fixations. It can create a sense of frustration when they realize, after months and years of self-reflection and inner work, that the fixations “are still there”. On more severe occasions, students and clients might even develop feelings of self-hate and self-loathing. And many might even turn on the whole model and drop it altogether because it made them feel more stressed and guilty than when they began.


These are the kinds of issues that Enneagram teachers and coaches work with their students to navigate and overcome.


But what if these issues could be avoided right from the beginning?


It is also commonly agreed upon that solid healthy growth through using the Enneagram as a model and roadmap is achieved more when people develops skills and tools and energies in themselves from the Types other than their own (and from the Instinctual Biases that are secondary and tertiary), and this kind of balances out the over-dependance on their own type (another word for the Fixations) and eventually they experience themselves as more well-rounded individuals (not to mention the spiritual undertones of this approach regarding a journey closer to integration and wholeness and unity).


It’s obvious that our approach can focus on emphasizing a strategy of growth through learning the tools and skills of other “points” or types, moving along the lines of the Enneagram symbol. But no matter how much we say that, if we still start with the Fixations in the same way described above, then the repercussions of that will still probably take place in the mind of the student/client.


Yet, we cannot avoid talking about the Fixations & Passions altogether, and we can’t also delay talking about them, because without people understanding the characteristics of their own type (or major Ennea Point), they won’t be able to understand anything said about other Types and Points. Everything about those Points will be filtered through the lens of their own Point (as they’ve been doing all their lives), and the best we can expect is the student/client understanding “how other types are better than me, or worse than me, or how they trigger me!”


So, even with an approach that focuses on growing by working towards inclusion of other Types and Points, rather than moving away from, and outgrowing Fixations & Passions, they still need to be learned from the get-go.


Reframing Fixations and Passions

And this brings me to my closing point: That we reframe Fixations & Passions from something that had been a survival mechanism then turned into the cause of your strife and pain, and that could potentially hold you back from growth, into a ‘Yard Stick’, a tool to use to clarify, highlight, and underscore your understanding of all those other characteristics you will be including into your toolbox. It’s simply based on the idea of “contrast”; the best way to understand the other types and to work towards including them, is to understand yours first, to create that vivid image through contrast.


It may seem that this is no different than what’s already common, and that this is all a game of semantics. But what if we “contrast” them side by side?

One approach is to say that each Type has certain characteristics that you as an individual depended upon for survival and they calcified and became rigid, and turned into something that is blinding you to so many other ways of existence and being through which you can experience the world, and if you work enough on releasing that rigidity and overcoming the control of these Fixations & Passions on yourself, then you can grow and experience the high side of your Type. And that can be done by integrating other Types and becoming more whole.


The other approach is to say there is a richness inside you through which you can experience so much more of the world. Throughout your life so far, you’ve become familiar with some aspects of that richness, leaned on it, and forgot the rest of your potential. So, to unlock the rest of that potential, let us begin by painting a picture of what you’ve developed and familiarized yourself with so far within yourself (and how that can be useful or harmful according to context), and use that as a way for you to start seeing what other parts you will work on strengthening, on your way to holistic integration.


I will leave the choice up to you.


Author: Mohamed Refaat

Mohamed Refaat is an Independent Scholar, Teacher, and Lecturer.

His studies focus on Integral Consciousness, Philosophy, and Metaphysics.


As a pharmacist, Mohamed spent his 14-year career in several major pharmaceutical companies holding a variety of sales, leadership, and training roles, before directing his focus to the field of Consciousness Studies.

He is now a Certified Enneagram Practitioner, a Certified Integral Enneagram Practitioner and a Certified Reiki Practitioner. And he is also a Certified Speaker, Trainer, and Coach with the John Maxwell Team, an Associate Certified ICF-Coach, and a Certified DISC Personality-model Practitioner.


He is now a self-proclaimed Philosopher and avid student of Consciousness, Spirituality, and other various Occult and Esoteric disciplines.


Mohamed created the course Quantum Consciousness; the first of its kind in the region to combine a deep review of Quantum Physics with various maps of consciousness and Integral Theory.


He recently founded Integral Minds for Training and Development and launched his latest two flagship programs on Consciousness and the Spiritual path; Ascension & Elevation.

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