Being reactive….another bit of typical enneagram jargon. Every week I promise to take you one step further into the world of the enneagram. To shine a bit more light on the type mechanism and the method for personal development. We’ve now reached the section on being reactive.
Pavlov was a Russian researcher in the field of physiology. But he’s most famous for his experiment on dogs in which he discovered conditioned reflex: the Pavlov reaction. This developed into the Stimulus-Response theory which, in a nutshell, describes that a particular stimulus (S) results in an specific automatic response (R).
Somewhat less theoretically, a more every-day example of the Pavlov reaction is if you say or think:
Oh no, did it again…Fell for it again…And I’d really told myself that this wouldn’t happen again…that I wouldn’t react like that again…
Recognise that? Have you ever had that? That you see yourself doing something or hear yourself saying something that you’re not happy with?
This happens to most of us once in a while. And if we look at what preceded that specific Response, we’re usually able to name the particular Stimulus, the trigger. In the enneagram we call these the trigger points: what triggers a particular automatic reaction in you.
Positive and less desirable Pavlov reactions
Some Pavlovian reactions are positive: a person reaches out their hand to you and your automatic reaction is to shake it. In doing so, you express socially acceptable or socialised behaviour. Within the framework of personal development with the enneagram, we often look at those Pavlov reactions we are less happy with. Because that’s where we can grow.
Nine common Pavlov reactions
Within the enneagram we distinguish nine separate ´packages´ of common Pavlov reactions. If we question the nine enneagram types, we see that there is primarily a difference in their negative triggers and how they become reactive. We see ´being reactive´ as a negative reaction or response to what triggers that person (or type). We’re talking here about things such as ‘what makes you angry?’ or ‘what makes you scared?’ and which lead to negative, inappropriate or ineffective behaviour.
A personal example
If you read my posts every week, you will know by now that I see myself as a type 1, the perfectionist or reformer. And what used to trigger me (yes, luckily this is now somewhat less so) was if I had neatly prepared something or had presented something and someone else then introduced mistakes into it so that it was no longer as it should be.
An example that springs to mind is related to the layout of my book, Enneagram for Dummies. The person working on it overlooked several sections which were consequently missing in the final publication… I was decidedly ‘not amused’ what I was told about this… After my outburst, it was pointed out to me that this was not such a problem as it was unlikely that anyone would ever notice… They thought I overreacted, but from my perspective it was a completely legitimate reaction. At that time. Luckily there has indeed only been one reader who noticed the omission; at least, only one I’ve heard from.
What and how
In this post I’m going to share with you WHAT things make each of the nine types reactive. What the common trigger points or Stimuli are for each type. I’ll write about HOW each type is reactive, so HOW their reactive behaviour manifests itself, next week. Otherwise this post would be much too long….
The most interesting thing, of course, is what can you do about it.
Self-managment begins with self-knowlegde. And self-knowledge is the result of self-observation and self-reflection. Once you become aware of WHAT triggers you and HOW you become reactive (including the internal signals which precede this), you are more self-aware and can learn to control yourself and choose to react differently. Because this is such a big and important subject I’ll be writing about it in my post in a couple of weeks.
But first the trigger points for the other eight types:
The trigger points for all types are those things on which the type mechanism does not seem to work and does not deliver that which people subconsciously try to achieve when they live according to their type.
type 2 – when type 2 can’t get others to do what they want, if people reject help or advice, if the help does not seem to be recognised or appreciated, if people do not react to type 2 ‘being nice’ or are not nice themselves, if people are not receptive to the flattery expressed by type 2, if the time to pay back has arrived but does not happen;
type 3 – failure or imminent failure, if someone or something gets in the way of success or achieving aims, if type 3 is not seen by the person they are trying to impress, if a colleague does better, if type 3 is forced to stop, if they are confronted with disease and old age;
type 4 – if type 4 is not recognised for being special and unique, if the special creativity expressed by type 4 is not recognised as such, for example if clients start to negotiate the price, anything which points to a rejection of type 4 or their work;
type 5 – if people encroach on their time, thoughts and life, if people delve into their private business (and that’s easily anything that concerns type 4), claims on attention, energy, time and money, being forced to deal with someone else’s emotions and emotional reactions, anything that infringes on the orderly world of facts;
type 6 – unclear situations, people whoa are unpredictable or difficult to understand, even the hint of a double agenda, change, lack of transparency and information, incongruities between what people do and say, being unprepared;
type 7 – being obstructed or limited, anything which limits freedom, when things are prescribed and type 7 feels shackled, rigid regulations, instructions, rules and agreements, having to fulfil promises, making commitments, anything that gets in the way of space and freedom;
type 8 – injustice and unreasonableness, when harm is done to the weak or to those who cannot or only with difficulty defend themselves, the inability to determine their own environment, being powerless or vulnerable, dishonest people or those who are not straight-forward, cheating;
type 9 – anything which plays up to their feeling of inferiority, anything which smacks of a shortcoming, whenever type 9 feels that they are being pushed too far or when they are not being taken into account, situations in which something is expected of type 9 but which would reveal their shortcomings, if type 9 is asked to give an opinion on a particular topic making them feel uncomfortable because another person may, for example, feel disgruntled.
Do you recognise the trigger points that make you reactive? Have you experienced other trigger points that I haven’t mentioned under your type?
Use the reaction box below to share your story. Just as I have shared my story with you.
Don’t send your reaction in an email as other readers of this blog may also be able to learn from your experience. And thank you for the time you have invested in reading my blog and reacting to it.
To your personal growth!
Thanks for sharing this post!