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Wings and Arrows

Updated: Mar 18, 2023




Wings

In the Enneagram, you are not confined to just the behavioral expressions or Core fears of your Type. Through your "Wings" or the Types directly adjacent you can also draw on and show the behaviors and fears of these Types. These Wings do not change your Core Type's motivations but flavor it with the behaviors and fears of the Types on either side of it. For example, a Type Two may have a One Wing or a Three Wing (or both), which will flavor the behaviors and fears of that Core Two Type--either causing the Two to show more concern with being good or being successful on top of being liked and wanted.


Why Use Wings?

Beyond general Typing and understanding different behavioral variations in Type, Wings can be a helpful way to gain new perspectives in a dilemma. If you are a Type Nine trying to decide on how to move forward on a project or dilemma and experiencing that same fear of conflict that likely put you in the position in the first place, drawing from the value of doing what is right from the One Wing and the energy of stepping into your power from the Eight Wing can help give the Nine confidence to hold a boundary and make a decision. Looking at the same dilemma from a different angle can give you the perspective, clarity, and confidence you need to make a decision in your best interest.


Arrows

The Enneagram also offers other great resources from Types that are connected through lines that connect your Core Type to other Types on the Enneagram circle. These Types are not adjacent to each other, but share lines between each other creating a Hexad (for Types One, Seven, Five, Eight, Two, Four) and an inner Triangle (for Types Three, Six, Nine).

In some Enneagram circles, these lines indicate movements of growth and stress, which allow for more variation in a Type's expression as well as indicators of a Type's growth journey.


Stress Lines

The Stress Line indicates the movement a Type will take when they are in stress and are naturally looking for more resources to have their needs met. Used in an unconscious way, this movement will take the main Core Type to the lower side of the connecting Type which ultimately allows them to take on that connected Type's negative qualities in the hopes of becoming more regulated. For Example, a Two in stress will degenerate to the low side of Eight (being overly direct and harsh), which will help the Two get what they need and self-regulate. Some experts would argue that using this movement consciously will allow for great growth opportunities for the Core Type. Again in the example of the Two, taking on the assertive, direct qualities of the Eight will allow the Two to ask for what they need without need to resort to more volatile options.


Release Lines

A Release Line (or a growth line) is the Type's movement toward integration and true self-development. The idea of this movement is that when the Core Type is becoming more aware of their tendencies and actively working on their shadow, they will move in the direction of the high side of this connecting Type. In the example of the Two again, a growing, integrating Type Two will start to take on the creative, self-expressing, self-understanding qualities of a health Four.


Blindspots

In some schools, specifically Beth McCord, the connection between a Core Type and another Type through the Release Line can also shed light on this Core Type's blindspot--or patterns of behavior that a Core Type expresses with those they love the most. She argues that the low side of the Release Line Type shows up in behaviours among family and close friends and can be another area of growth for the Core Type. For example, when the Type Two is interacting with close friends and family, they may start to take on the mercurial, moody, and self-indulgent qualities of an unhealthy Four as another means of getting their needs met.


The Hexad

The connecting pattern among the Types Seven, One, Four, Two Eight, and Five (and going the opposite direction) represents the Hexad of the Enneagram. This shape indicates both the stress and Release Lines of the Types depending on the direction they are going. The growth lines are as follows: Five, Eight, Two, Four, One, Seven, Five. The Stress Lines are the opposite direction: Five, Seven, One, Four, Two, Eight, Five. These connections between these Types are bigger jumps in movement for the Type, meaning it requires more stress or more integrate to move among these Types. For example, the Type Five will require considerable work to integrate a movement to Eight and will require somewhat constant stress and frustration to move to Seven.







The Inner Triangle

The inner triangle is composed of the Types Three, Six, and Nine. These Types are the center of each of their Instinctual Triads and so contain somewhat of the central issue of that Triad (they are also all in the Attachment Triad for their Object Relations. See my post about Object Relations Triad for more information). Similarly to the Hexad, the movements one way in the triangle indicate the growth movements and opposite direction indicates the stress movements (Growth: Three, Six, Nine, Three; Stress: Nine, Six, Three, Nine). In contrast to the Hexad, these movements among the inner triangle are somewhat easier to make compared to the Hexad--the Three requires less stress to move to Nine and less growth to move to Six. That being said, these movements can be even more fluid and change drastically throughout even a given day.





Why Does This Matter and The Scissor Technique

Though these teachings are not universally held as true, having language for the large movements in a persons expression of their Type even on a daily basis can aid in mistyping and giving language for the internal experience of where the Type lives in moments of growth and stress.


Having these different perspectives at your disposal is also super helpful for gaining new perspectives and new resources for making decisions. One way to intentionally use these new perspectives is through the "Scissor Technique". The scissor technique comes from the coaching world where the coach leads the coachee through a process of understanding a dilemma from the Core Type's understanding and then looking at the dilemma from the perspectives of the Types in the Core Type's Wings, Stress Lines, and Release Lines.


For example, if a Type Four is confused on how to make a decision in their career, they would first try to understand the dilemma they face and the reason why they are conflicted. Next they would see what perspective the Three and Five (as the Four's Wings) would take on this dilemma and see if the characteristics of these other Types offer any steps forward. Finally, the Four would look to their Stress Line in Type Two and their Release Line in Type One and see if these Types offer more perspective and more behaviors that would add clarity to the dilemma. Usually by this point, the Core Type is able to see with more clarity the ins and outs of the problem and at least a few ideas of the next steps forward.



Hexad Picture Courtesy of Enneagramdepot.com

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