Updated: Jun 23
We are historical beings. And throughout the course of our lives, we organize ourselves in a certain way in order to make sure that we're safe, we belong and we have dignity.
From the time we're little, we have had things happen that threaten our safety, belonging and/or dignity and we come up with strategies to make sure we protect those things. And those strategies have worked for us...because here we are! We're alive.
But they were born of a much younger version of ourselves. They started at a young age and even though we know that, we can find ourselves reacting in a way that isn't aligned with who we really want to be now, as adults. So we can start grappling with these habits and working against them. These begin to manifest themselves in our life as what we consider weaknesses, and may even attribute them to our enneagram type nine. These weaknesses are also known as conditioned tendencies.
What do these conditioned tendencies look like?
Here are a few of my conditioned tendencies as a Nine:
Checking out, or sometimes buffering/numbing, during conversations that feel heated.
Checking out or diverting people's attention when I'm suddenly forced to take responsibility for a result I've created. Anything to avoid conflict.
Suddenly feeling angry when I sense that someone has disregarded me. Cue the overthinking.
Suddenly feeling a wall go up when I sense that someone is blaming me for something negative.
A sudden rise in my heart rate and a racing/unfocused mind whenever I have the opportunity to speak up in large group settings where people are offering their thoughts or opinions.
Do you share these tendencies with me? What additional conditioned tendencies do you have? The enneagram nine sloth, procrastination, overeating/overdrinking, or feeling overwhelmed in a group of people may be a few that come to mind when you think about your own weaknesses.
Be Friends, Not Enemies
Here's what I want to share with you today:
In order to transform, we have to come to terms with these weaknesses.
If we don't, they will keep persisting. And the harder we grapple with them, the harder they are going to work to take care of what they're trying to take care of.
Secondly, these habits actually live in our tissues. And in order to move beyond them and to make space for new, more useful habits to be available to us, we need to recognize that these habits activate on a physical level first, before they do on a cognitive level.
We want to go to where they are and get to get to know them. We actually want to befriend them.
Later in this post, I'll share with you an exercise that will help you to do this. But an important step before you begin to befriend your tendencies is, if you haven't already, to start becoming a curious observer of these conditioned tendencies. We want to become aware of them without judging them. There's nothing wrong with having them. There's nothing to fix. They're part of our humanity.
I invite you to allow these parts of you to have a room within your "house." Not to be the master of your house, but to know that they have a place of honor and that you will call on them to help you when you need them.
Sit with that before you take it a little further with this next step.
The Friend Zone Is a Good Thing
We've discussed conditioned tendencies as Nines, and how important it is to befriend them.
I know this probably goes against everything that your brain tells you to do. One of our tendencies as HUMANS (not just Nines) is to try to reject and fight against our weaknesses.
The problem is, this doesn't work. It only gives them more power over us.
I want to teach you how to befriend those conditioned tendencies.
Are you ready?
How Do You Befriend Your Tendencies as an Enneagram Nine?
Ok, think of a recent time that you reacted in a way that wasn't aligned with who you really want to be.
Maybe you noticed yourself mentally checking out or withdrawing during an uncomfortable conversation or a loud moment in your home. Maybe you acted passive-aggressively when it felt like someone disregarded you or talked condescendingly to you. Maybe you froze up when you were about to share something in a group.
Got one in mind?
Ok...now take a few relaxing breaths. Bring your awareness to your body and take a moment and be present with where you are right now, and invite yourself to feel what happened inside of you when this happened.
Explore what happened in your body.
Be with yourself and get curious for a minute.
Zoom in on a particular moment during that experience and simply recall what happened inside of you.
Do you notice a sense of armoring, or a wall going up? A tightening? An extra amount of energy?
Now notice if it's moving in any certain way. Is it moving inward? Outward? Forward? Feel for those subtle movements.
Remember that conditioned tendencies are completely normal. Having them doesn't mean there's anything wrong with you. There's nothing to fix. We're just staying curious.
To befriend this, we want to move from a simple concept to a sense of how it feels.
Now, rub your hands together to wake them up, then place them on your heart and think of your hands in a healing way...giving loving contact to your body.
Now, get curious about where those loving hands need to go to nurture that reactive part of you.
Maybe they need to stay right on your chest because you feel a tightening of a barrier that goes up there. Maybe they want to travel to your shoulders or the back of your neck because you feel them tighten. Just explore until it feels the most right.
When it feels like it's in the right place, feel for how much pressure it needs, and what direction this wants to move. Allow your hand to move in that direction. Our intention is to befriend this tendency.
Get curious about what this reaction has been trying to take care of all this time.
Is it safety?
Is it belonging?
Is it dignity?
Or is it a combination of the three?
Just notice how that reaction is committed to your safety.
We want to acknowledge this part of ourselves. What might it want to hear? What words would resonate? Maybe it's as simple as, "Good job. You got me to this point." or "Thank you for trying to take care of me all this time." or "I see you. I get it."
Say those words out loud and just notice what it wants to say to you. Maybe something like, "Thank you. Now I feel seen."
Part of Being a Human is Having Conditioned Tendencies
No matter what Enneagram type you are, you will always have the same conditioned tendencies.
So this isn't about getting rid of them. It's about changing our relationship with them. If you've been hating these parts of you, hating your "struggles", your "weaknesses", as an enneagram nine, you've been sending a message to them that you're trying to banish them.
I invite you to allow these parts of you to have a room within your "house." Not to control them, but to know that they have a place of honor and that you will call on them to help you when you need them.
Now take a couple of breaths and notice what you feel. Take note of this process.
Befriending is a way that we can come out of the grapple, or the fight with what we don't like about ourselves and come into a relationship that helps it to soften.
As it softens, it creates more space to access a wider range of options, like new habits that we're building within us. Like being centered and facing conflict with dignity and confidence, instead of avoiding and smoothing things over.
It's a process. It takes time. Be kind to yourself and take all the time you need. I'm here to help you when you feel ready.
Feel free to reach out at any time to chat- it's what I'm here for! Schedule a consultation, I'd love to get to know you better and help you with your toughest challenge.