type 9


Being a nine involves movement between inner sleep and awakeness, a struggle that is often hidden from the lower self. If I am a nine, it is likely that I value and want to preserve the pleasant simplicity of my daily life. Having an uncomplicated, comfortable lifestyle helps me because it allows me to remain calm and undisturbed, preserving an inner state of peaceful quiet. This is both a powerful talent and possibly the most dangerous trap I may face in my personal journey.

At my best, I can completely let go of my lower self, making possible a kind of merging with others that can heal emotional rifts and create deep, loving connections. The ability to become “one with” other people combines with an intuitive sense of how to help them grow into the best they can be, and everyone benefits as we lovingly dance together. When I am operating from my real Essence, I become a powerful catalyst for spiritual renewal, showing people to themselves in a nonjudgmental, caring way so that they can heal themselves.

At my worst, I can become overly attached to inner calm, causing me to avoid anything that might upset me or create disturbance. This can lead me deeper and deeper into a sort of trance, as I unconsciously remove from my awareness all of the influences that might threaten the peace. When my real Essence is clouded by attachment to undisturbed inner silence, I might sometimes lose awareness altogether, becoming effectively dead, utterly unable to function because I am completely ignoring the outer world and myself in order to stay free of inner disturbance.


building a self
Part of my nature as a nine is that I am able to dissolve my own sense of self. This ability is valuable because if I do it with full wakefulness and awareness, it can enable me to merge with others, helping them to find a peacefulness and calm that is similar to my own. I can help others find this centered, relaxed state because a part of my own essence becomes available to them when I merge into their experience.

The special talent of dissolving the self has a dark side, which is a tendency to fall away from the world into a sort of unconscious fog. As odd as it may sound, I probably have a strong tendency to let myself simply drop out of existence. The body is there, but I have gone away into some fuzzy fantasy.

As a nine, my most important task in self-development is to build a firm internal foundation for my personality. Before I can successfully use my powerful talent of dissolving the self, I need to have a solid self to dissolve. Otherwise, there is a directionless, formless quality to the experience, making it useless for helping myself or others.

I am asleep until there is a “me” to awaken. I need to create an internal image of myself that is not just an idealized reflection of someone else, but a unique, self-empowering, self-generating ego, with its own desires and goals. Until there is an internal foundation for the personality, the whole system rests in a sort of preconscious torpor, waiting for the self to emerge so that it can be awakened.

Do I have goals and projects of my own that are not the result of someone else’s ideas about what I should be doing with my life?

Do I have clear, distinct opinions about the world that do not change depending on who I am with?

When I am with someone else, am I really there?

waking up
Why does it matter whether I am present within myself? Unless I can focus on what is going on right now, right here, I am not really alive at all. Why is it important for me to stay awake and centered in the here-and-now? The Sufis say: “Be in the world but not of it.” My problem may be that I am not in the world often enough.


If I can remind myself to be sharply awake in the present moment, then it is likely that I will begin to discover a new vitality within myself. I may find that new, practical ideas occur to me — ideas that can help me live my life more efficiently, effectively, and powerfully. I might become an actualized person, able to grab the reins of my life and make myself into somebody brand new. I might become real at last.

Do I ever find that time has passed but I have no idea what I have been thinking about during that time?

Does life often seem to pass me by, as days and maybe weeks seem to slip into obscure memories?

Do I have habits that put me to sleep, like watching TV or playing solitaire?

Is my routine the same every day?

When was the last time I voluntarily did something really different from my usual activities?

Do I go out of my way to pursue new friendships, new activities, to learn and grow in ways that wake me up?


physical exercise
There are distinct chemical and physiological changes that happen when a human body gets into the habit of exercising frequently. The circulatory system toughens up, reflexes become faster, the nervous system rebalances on a higher level of activation. The sharpness of thoughts improves and emotions are more clearly and distinctly felt.

By exercising my body I can help to focus my awareness in the present moment. Because of the changes that happen when I exercise regularly, I will be helping myself to create the solid inner foundation of awareness that I need to deal with difficulties successfully. My attention will be enhanced, helping me to focus on what is happening right now.

Do I exercise at least once a day?

When I exercise, do I work up a good sweat for at least fifteen minutes?

After exercising, is there a generalized “glow” suffusing my whole body?

If I don’t get the exercise to which I have become accustomed, does my body begin to feel like it wants to get up and work out?

Do I put off my exercise sessions if I feel tired, or do I work out anyway, knowing that the tired feeling will probably disappear once I get started?

expressing my aggressions
Like all human beings, I have aggressive feelings that need to be released. When I feel annoyed or upset, aggressive feelings are often generated, as a natural reaction to the stressful stimulus. There is also a natural level of aggressiveness that is always present.

If I respond to my aggressive tendencies by going to sleep, passively forgetting the felt need to do something about them, then they are likely to be expressed in some way that is actually harmful to me. They might take the form of physical symptoms like backaches, headaches, ulcers, or even cancer. They might come out in the form of passive-aggressive behavior, where I act against the interests of others by “forgetting” or negligently avoiding doing things I have promised to do.

I can avoid these hurtful redirected aggressions by consciously giving myself a chance to work out my feelings. Physical exercise can help a great deal. When I feel angry or upset, it can be enormously helpful to immediately do something physical. I can take a walk (or even a run). I can pound a large ball of clay with my fist. I can do some jumping-jacks or pushups. I can go out in the garden and turn the compost. It doesn’t really matter what I do, as long as I do something physical.

I can also help myself by learning to respond to others with a sure, powerful response, rather than passively going along with them. I need to let them know when something is not to my liking. I need to stand up for my own beliefs, even if it means accepting the fact that others disagree with me.

I might be surprised to find that other people respond to my forcefully stated feelings with a new consideration of my own interests, helping me to stabilize my inner foundation rather than eroding it by dissolving it in favor of other people’s agendas. Other people will respect me more if I have my own set of carefully considered beliefs and opinions, and if I stick to them in the face of opposition from others.

When was the last time I strongly defended my own point of view?

When was the last time I let someone else win a dispute even though I felt they were wrong?

After I have been involved in a difficult interaction, do I deliberately do something physical to let out my aggressions?


desiring truth over peace
If I am to become an awake, actively self-interested person, it is crucial that I be prepared to discover the truth about myself. Sometimes the discoveries will be good, and sometimes they will be uncomfortable. If I respond to uncomfortable truths by letting myself drop away into a forgetful space, then I am defeating myself.

The more I can consciously accept discomforting knowledge, knowledge which perhaps stirs up emotions I would rather not have, the more likely it is that I will find answers that eventually will restore my inner peace. Why? Because conscious acceptance of the truth is the only way to move through it into a solution. If I ignore problems, in many cases they will get worse. If I pay attention and try to find workable, real-world answers, then my life will steadily become more and more comfortable and I will gain greater self-actualization and confidence.

Am I willing to accept temporary discomfort in the interest of eventual greater awakeness?

Do I take an active role in discovering the truth about the difficult areas in my life, or do I wait for problems to disappear through the passage of time?


becoming other people
When I am with other people, I probably have a tendency to let my own desires and needs drop away in favor of theirs. It is true that by doing so I open the way for the use of my great talents at merging with others, but if I do not stay awake the whole time then I will inevitably short-change myself and drastically reduce my own value to the other people. I will be rendered ineffective because I am not helping myself enough.

I need to pay just as much attention to serving my own needs as the needs of others. If I can treat myself as if I were someone else, looking carefully for needs to fulfill, then I am on the right path.

When I am with someone else, whose needs are more important, mine or theirs?

If someone needs help, do I stop to think before I take on some of their burden?

Do my feelings change to fit those of the person I am with?

being able to confront
Every time I react to difficulty by shutting down, I put myself further to sleep. A little bit of me stops functioning. My whole system slows down a little bit more. I drop further into the void of non-being.

If I can find it in myself to confront those who have wronged me, I will be empowered by the act, and others will come to respect me as well. I will take action when something happens that bothers me. I will stand up for myself, and say what needs to be said. I will find that powerful Self inside of me and wake it up!

How do I respond when someone has done something that annoys me or makes my life more difficult?

Do I pull away from them, hoping that the whole issue will just die down and go away?

Do I let things go, feeling like it doesn’t matter anyway?

Am I able to stand up for what I believe, even if it means that someone else might disagree with me?

becoming an active participant
Having a genuine self means taking an active role in life rather than letting others determine what is right for me. It means truly desiring to be the star of my own life. It means wanting to polish my awareness so that I become a shining light of conscious attention.

If I am a nine in charge of my own life, I must put the greatest effort I can into always being focused in the here-and-now. Every second of the day I must be present to myself, always watching to see what is happening right in front of me. I must not let myself drift off into fantasies or daydreams. Dreams are for the night time. When I am awake, I must be really, truly awake.

Consciousness is our birthright as human beings. If I give up my consciousness in order to stay peaceful, then I am letting go of my most precious possession. If I strengthen my ability to pay attention to the moment, watching my own thoughts and feelings with deep interest, then I will find myself growing steadily more capable of determining my own life path. I will actualize myself as a solidly self-determined independent being. I will find true freedom and inner peace.

passing it on
Once I have begun to wake up my inner self, I can begin to use the greatest nineish talent of all. I can begin to pass on to others what I have discovered inside of myself. By merging into the experiences of other people without forgetting who I have become, I can show them how to find the same kind of self-actualizing energy. I can magically bring them to wakefulness just as I have done for myself.

To do this, I must not be afraid to show them disturbing things about themselves, just as I have had to show myself disturbing things in order to wake myself up. Because I have become clear and internally unified, I will be able to transmit to them a trusting acceptance of themselves, so that they can see themselves truthfully and forgivingly.

I will find deep, lasting fulfillment and an indescribable conscious peace that transcends all of the shallow peacefulness of sleepy self-ignorance. All I need to do is stay AWAKE!


at their best
Healthy nines are life-affirming and vigorous. Because they do not compulsively fall into empty, spaced-out states, they are able to consciously move from a state of cosmic union into complete individuality and back. Their ability to intuitively dip into deeper levels of unselfed being gives them a special kind of ancient innocence, a self-creating childlike sparkle that infects others with its youthful energy. They bring a distinctive, clear, simple joy to the lives of everyone they meet.

Healthy nines are some of the most dynamically alive people. They are real people, who stand out like beacons of genuineness. Others want to emulate them because they seem so natural and complete. They are truly human beings. Healthy nines are the essence of Being.

average nines
When healthy nines misuse or misunderstand their innate talent of unselfing, they might begin to use it to escape from the unpleasant task of interacting with the real world. They may begin to use their talent compulsively, at times when it is inappropriate. The merged state is pleasant and peaceful, so it is a tremendously seductive way to ignore worldly difficulties. The more they space out to avoid problems, the more the problems accumulate and deepen. If they continue to withdraw into nothingness, they will inevitably run head-on into real trouble.

Most average nines look and feel normal. They have a sense of what their society considers the most unthreatening, average, everyday kind of person, and they (usually unthinkingly) adopt that as their own personal style. Most nines want to be invisible, so they can peacefully rest. They effortlessly become unremarkable and uninteresting, which is one of their instinctive defenses against attention from other people.

unhealthy nines
The more compulsively they disembody, the harder it becomes for nines to find the peace they so ardently desire. Their constant attempts to space out become more and more difficult because the world is demanding more and more of them. Blaming others and becoming anxious, like unhealthy sixes, they attempt to secure peace by forcing others to deal with their problems. The more they try to pull away from the world, the more it seems to pull on them. This invisible struggle, if it continues, leads to the ultimate withdrawal from the world and its demands: complete catatonic paralysis.

Unbalance leads nines ever further into nobodyland. One by one, systems shut down. Social life becomes virtually nonexistent, and nine sleeps more and more, both with eyes closed, and also increasingly with them wide open. Personal grooming suffers, and home could be a dangerously cluttered rat’s nest. In the end, nine simply winks out of existence. There is nothing left but an empty, catatonic shell, with dull eyes and a pasty complexion. Unbalanced nines are the essence of sleep.


more questions for nines

Do I value peace beyond understanding, the simple pleasure of belonging to the universe, direct being and effortless participation in life?

Do I see the world?

Does empty nothingness distract me?

Do idle fantasies distract me?

How do I measure the value of my life?

Are there times when peace is an excuse?

Are there times when inaction is dangerous?

Am I an unconscious robot?

Do I notice other people?

Do other people notice me?


Do I make other people into fairy-tale characters?

Is it possible to love someone who disturbs me?

Do my role models accomplish great things?

Do I find magnificence through genuine being?

Do I find myself through motivated accomplishment?

Does my own negligence lead me into being suspicious of others?

Does anxiety put me to sleep?

Do I deserve to exist?

Am I ready to be born?

Do I spread glue to fill in all the gaps?

Do I put up with everything, even if it means losing myself?

Do I pretend to be here when I am really nowhere at all?


Am I here to forget myself?

Am I here to become invisible?

Am I here to teach Self-realization?

Do I want anything from life?

Is life passing me by?

Do I care about myself?

Am I somebody?

Do I have realistic, honest plans for my life?

Am I carrying them out?

Am I able to say disturbing things to other people, when it becomes necessary?

Do I idealize other people?

Whom do I like more, animals or people?

Does the world contain invisible spirits, fairies, elementals, gods, or other beings?

Do I talk with them?

Are they as real as humans?

Is God the ultimate Self?

Is God looking through my eyes?




Next in Enneagram 101: type 9 with 8 wing

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