Mindfulness and the Enneagram: Ending the Suffering of Negative Thoughts for each Enneagram Type

mindfullness Jan 05, 2024

I’m a little late to the party as I was already a mediator and have my own spiritual practices however the last few months I’ve been doing a deep five into ‘Mindfulness’ as taught by the various popular teacher’s including Tara Branch and Byron Katie and others. I’ve learned a lot.

Using the Enneagram with a Mindfulness practice will super charge your ability to address that which causes you the most suffering. The Enneagram maps out for us the thoughts that cause the most suffering for each type.

Those thoughts are the root of all negative thoughts that you experience. These are the thoughts that are rooted in each Enneagram types Core Fears. These are the thoughts that keep us from being ‘present’ causing us suffering.

But first a little about mindfulness

What is being 'present'? 

We hear this term used frequently in personal growth and its meaning runs from the simplistic to the transcendent.

From ‘be here now’ and not lost in your thoughts to transcending the ego entirety. I’m not there yet! Lol. Still working on the first one!

And often it’s having negative throughs of the future, the past, fear, anxiety, depression or anger. The ability to be ‘present’ in our daily lives is directly related to how well we can manage these thoughts. No easy task.

However, if you understand your Enneagram types Core Fears, you have a head start in recognizing negative thinking and learning to not believe it when it does not serve you. Each Enneagram Type has their own unique brand of 'negative thinking and it's always constellated around that Enneagram Types Core Fears. 

Our ‘mind’ is constantly thinking. On average we think over 50,000 thoughts a day. So it’s worth investigating how and when our thoughts are serving us and when they are hurting us.

As the saying goes, the mind makes a bad master and the heart a good master. Sage advice. 
Our mind is a great tool. And each Enneagram type has a special gift in they way they see and interpret the world. When we run into trouble is when often under stress our Enneagram Types Core Fears begin to fill our thoughts and bring suffering. 

Being present is doing a few things. 

First, it’s putting an iron door around today so that your mind does not go into the past or into the future and create scenarios and thoughts that cause pain and suffering. Or thoughts of a magical future that take us out of our negative feelings today.

This helps me ward off anxiety and negative future thinking. Truth be told, we never know what the next day may bring. A resolution to our problems or more problems. But one is as likely as the other. 

Being present is being wholly focused on being  here and now. So we need a way to recognize our negative thoughts and a way to neutralize them. Using the Core Fears of each Enneagram Type as a basis to identify and investigate thoughts that make us suffer is profoundly helpful. 

Easier said than done especially if we are experiencing physical pain, fear, anxiety, depression or anger. But the key is to realize that only our thoughts cause these feelings. The world is how we make it in our thoughts. So best to become a master of your thinking and to be especially suspicious of thoughts that are based on the assumptions of your Enneagram types Core Fears. 

You are Not Your Thoughts

The first key is to recognize that you the real you is not your thoughts.

You are witnessing and reacting to them but fundamentally they are not you.
Your Core Fears are your ego’s way of trying to keep you safe. When they get stuck on and create negative thinking they only bring suffering. Recognizing them, investigating them, learning to laugh at or ignore them, or learning to allow them without accepting them as 'true and real' will bring you peace and freedom from the suffering of negative thinking. That's what Mindfulness is all about. Managing the mind and its thoughts. 

So don’t believe your thoughts. Especially the negative one’s that arise out of your Core Fears. If you can start catching these thoughts you can literally laugh at them, talk back to them, or make a sarcastic comment. This really works.

As Byron Katie recommends, investigate them, use her method, ‘The Work’  and find out if they are useful or not, true or not. If you do, you will find they begin to  lose their power over you. 

The Enneagram and Mindfulness.
Just as we are not our thoughts we are also not our Enneagram type. We are the self or witness having the experience of our thoughts or our type.  Yes, our type at times offers us great gifts and talents, and out thoughts when directed well benefit us greatly. But our negative thoughts…especially when we become obsessive about them are a sure suffer needlessly. Examine your thoughts and chose the one’s you believe in. 

We should be particularly suspect of our thoughts when they are habitual and in alignment with the core fears of our Enneagram type. 

Chances are they are wrong and telling us a lie in the misguided hope of protecting our egos.  But like a broken record repeating itself over and over again. The truth is, our negative thoughts are really trying to help us. But when anxiety, depression or fear become overwhelming these thoughts become the primary source of our suffering. Far more than the experience in real time of whatever the challenge is in our life.

They Key To Presence for Each Enneagram Type

If you work with enough students you will realize that their thought patterns that bring them suffering are always the same as those of another student who has the same Enneagram type. All type 8s have the same Core Fears. if that's true, how can those Core Fears be anything other than a habit pattern? How can they reflect the real you? They don't. They reflect your ego and its fears as determined by your Enneagram type. 

Their life circumstances may be different, the situation they are thinking about may be different, but the part that is causing the suffering is always rooted in that types Core Fear.  So common sense suggests that if you practice ‘mindfulness’ on your Core Fears you will begin to heal the part of you that creates the most negative thoughts, feelings and suffering.

If you do ‘The Work’ by Byron Katie long enough you will find that behind the thoughts that are causing you suffering are the Core Fears of your Enneagram type.

When you can start to see through them, see them as just a habit pattern of thinking, then you can start to really deepen your personal growth and begin to be truly ‘present’ 

So let’s review the Core Fears for each Enneagram type. And if you are that type, investigate how often the underpinning of your most painful thoughts are based in your types Core Fear. 


Type One

Fear of being wrong, bad, evil, irresponsible, inaccurate, and corruptible. 


Type Two 

Fear of being worthless, useless, unneeded, immutable, and inconsequential. 


Type Three

Fear of being inefficient, unsuccessful, unmasked, incapable and unable to do


Type Four

Fear of being painfully lacking, inadequate, flawed, defective, ordinary and commonplace. 


Type Five

Fear of not existing, annihilation, disappearing, fully embodied, ignorant or contaminated. 


Type 6

Fear of fear itself, being blamed, tendency to submit to authority, being alone, unprotected, helpless or mislead.

Type 7

Fear of being incomplete, inferior, limited, confined or missing out. 


Type 8

Fear of being humiliated, weak, powerless, manipulated, controlled or vulnerable. 


Type 9

Fear of being loveless, shutout, discordant, standing out, or inharmonious

The bottom line is that each type believes they’re Core Fears. And it’s through these Core Fears that their thinking interprets life and creates thoughts.  But don’t believe these thoughts. Pretend you are watching another person have these thoughts. What would you say to them?  What would you tell an Enneagram Type Four experiencing negative thoughts based on their Core Fears? Likely you would tell them they are false and not at all how you see that person. 

As a 4, my Core Fears are of fear I am painfully lacking, inadequate, flawed, defective, ordinary and commonplace.

So if I go through a painful experience or something goes wrong in my life, guess what my mind starts telling me was the cause? Me.

That I am painfully lacking, inadequate, flawed, defective, ordinary and commonplace.  Now how does that help me as a 4? It doesn’t. It does just the opposite. It makes me worse. These negative thoughts keep me from taking the actions I need to take to resolve the problems I'm facing. So best to investigate them and not believe them. 

It makes me believe I can’t fix my situation. It makes me believe I caused it and all the shame and blame that come with that thought. It makes me fear other’s will reject me for my misfortunes and they too will see me as flawed and end our relationship. 

Not exactly motivating! 

First, you can stop and just witness. Oh, I’m having thoughts related to my Core Fears. I’m going to investigate them and assume they are not all worth believing. I guarantee you they are not. Our Core Fears and the thoughts they generate are there to try to motivate us. But when they go into overdrive and become negative and constant they do the opposite. They cause suffering and likely make our ability to access our higher wisdom much more difficult. 

When we react to our Core Fears and treat them as real we will create thoughts that make us suffer. Every time.

So I use Byron Katie’s 4 questions in ‘The Work’ To examine my core fears and the thoughts that arise out of them. Any difficult situation I find myself in will automatically generate thoughts based on my Core Fears. Notice, Investigate, Explore and Nurture. Are these thoughts worthy of your believing in them? Probably not.

In closing, this short introduction to Mindfulness and the Enneagram offers you a key insight into the source of your negative thoughts. And a way to start managing them. This is a daily practice and I highly recommend you join me in a coaching session, online training and or study and apply they many available methods by various mindfulness teachers. I recommend ‘The Work’ by Byron Katie and ‘RAIN’ by Tara Brach. Both methods are free on video and on their respective websites.

Blessings and Peace, 

David W. Fauvre MA. 


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