Are You a Thinker, Feeler, or Doer? Enneagram Triads & 3 Practices {Enneagram Series #17}

How do you navigate through life? Are you more of a thinker, feeler, or doer?

Granted, we all do all three: thinking, feeling, and doing. But we typically use one mode more than the others, a second one less frequently, and the third one least of all.

See which grouping (Enneagram triad) you fall under, according to your Enneagram number. Is it accurate for you?

Triads Enneagram

The 3 Intelligence Centers

“Listening to thoughts (head), feelings (heart), or instincts (gut) based on your dominant Intelligence Center is the beginning of learning to hear how God has always been speaking to you.”
– Christopher Heuertz

The nine numbers on the Enneagram are grouped into many sets of threes: the Intelligence Centers, the Harmony Triads, the social styles, the conflict avoidance styles, etc.

“God is the original harmony of three in one.”
Calhoun and Loughrige, Spiritual Rhythms for the Enneagram

One of the most important groups of threes to understand on the Enneagram (and my favorite) is the Intelligence Centers. These are how we observe and make sense of the circumstances and relationships in our lives.

We learn and engage through our:

  • Gut (or Body) (types 8, 9, 1)
  • Heart (types 2, 3, 4)
  • Head (types 5, 6, 7)

Each number on the Enneagram is categorized into one of these centers. We operate in all three centers and God works in us through all three centers.

But each number on the Enneagram is typically dominant in only one center. We work most naturally with God through our dominant center. It’s our starting point for hearing his voice.

Intelligence Centers Triads_Enneagram

In what order would you rank your use of GQ, EQ, and IQ?

  • GQ is what your gut instinct knows (gut intelligence)
  • EQ is what your heart feels (emotional intelligence)
  • IQ is what your head thinks (head intelligence)

Key Emotion

Each of these three groups also contains an underlying emotion (anger, shame, or fear), which is either externalized, repressed, or internalized. (Read more about it here.)

  • Externalize – project the emotion outwardly; experience it outside of themselves
  • Repress – strategize to prevent the emotion from existing at all
  • Internalize – turn the emotion in on themselves; experience it inwardly

THE GUT (OR BODY), also known as the Instinctive Triad – 8, 9, 1

Key Emotion: Anger

8s, 9s, and 1s don’t want to waste time thinking about what to do. They want to just go do it. They make decisions based on their instincts. They may consider thoughts and emotions, but they are driven by their gut.

They are concerned with controlling their environment instead of being controlled by it. Thus they seek to be independent and create boundaries.

  • 8s externalize anger
  • 9s repress anger
  • 1s internalize anger

THE HEART, also known as the Feeling Triad – 2, 3, 4

Key Emotion: Shame

2s, 3s, and 4s are most comfortable when they follow their feelings. They desire to connect emotionally with others.

They are often concerned with their self-image. As a result, they invest energy trying to validate their worth to others.

  • 2s externalize shame
  • 3s repress shame
  • 4s internalize shame

THE HEAD, also known as the Thinking Triad – 5, 6, 7

Key Emotion: Fear

5s, 6s, and 7s spend a lot of time in their heads. They like to face problems logically and think through issues.

They can feel anxious and are wary that the world is an unsafe place. They seek strategies to prepare for an uncertain future.

  • 5s externalize fear
  • 6s repress fear
  • 7s internalize fear

Each of these centers offers its own unique way of receiving God’s love and giving its gifts to others.

Spiritual Practice #11—Practice Stillness, Solitude, and Silence

“Some aspects of our awakening, growth, and development we just cannot achieve on our own; it is a work of grace, a work only God can do in us.”
– Christopher Heuertz

The Enneagram helps us find our unique path to spiritual growth, according to Christopher Heuertz. He suggests the following three spiritual disciplines for each triad. Each practice can open us up to God’s grace and work in us.

Allow these disciplines to calm your body, still your emotions, and quiet your mind.

THE GUT (OR BODY) – 8, 9, 1

Practice stillness.

“Stillness teaches us restraint, and in restraint we are able to discern what appropriate engagement looks like.”

Occasionally give yourself time to simply stop. Let go of your desire to always be in control. Release your overidentification with having to do and reevaluate your addiction to drive.

THE HEART – 2, 3, 4

Practice solitude.

“Solitude, time by ourselves, teaches us to be present—present to ourselves, present to God, and present with others with no strings attached.”

Schedule time when you can be alone. Release your need of staying connected with others or comparing yourself to others.

THE HEAD – 5, 6, 7

Practice silence.

“In silence, God will do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.”

Give in to periods of silence. Turn down the inner noise to listen closer to the voice of God. Find freedom from an obsession with competence and finding answers, and just be quiet. Be assured that everything will be okay.


Do you operate more out of your heart, head, or body? Please share in the comments.

See the whole Enneagram series here

Enneagram for Spiritual Growth

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Previous: You See Differently {Series #16}

Next: What’s Your Connection Style? Prayer Practices for Each Enneagram Number {Series #18} 

17 thoughts on “Are You a Thinker, Feeler, or Doer? Enneagram Triads & 3 Practices {Enneagram Series #17}

  1. blankLila Diller

    As a 6, I’m supposed to operate in my head, and I do. But I also operate in my heart sometimes, too. A 6’s core emotion is fear. Yes. That is me. But I wouldn’t say that I repress it. I would say I internalize it more like a 7.

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      I’m a 5 so my core emotion is fear, too, which indeed it is. But yeah, I’m not sure I externalize it, like you aren’t sure you repress it. I think I internalize it. The whole externalize/internalize/repress thing is a little confusing; I’m thinking the way we define those words and the way “they” do may differ. 🙂

      One of my sisters is also a 6 and I wouldn’t say she represses fear either. The only way I can make it all fit with the definition is when they say “repress” means to strategize about it. In that case, I might “repress” it too because I tend to strategize about how to keep bad things from happening (i.e. worry).

    2. blankLisaNotes Post author

      Just thought of something else for 6s. Do you know if you’re a phobic 6 or a counterphobic 6?

      Here’s a snippet about it.

      “There are two types of Sixes: phobic and counterphobic. Their reactions to being fearful are so different that outwardly they can appear to be different Enneagram styles.

      When phobic Sixes sense danger, they lie low. They may act cautious, compliant or ambivalent in order to avoid potential attack.

      When counterphobic Sixes sense danger, they often deliberately provoke it by acting outspoken and aggressive, wanting to handle trouble before it handles them.”

      https://www.thechangeworks.com/ennprimer/enn9styls2.html

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      That’s awesome, Martha. I’m a 5w4, which means I mainly operate from my head, but with my wing number, I operate from my heart. Body? I have to keep working on getting it involved. 🙂

  2. blankLesley

    This is where I find it confusing! I’m a 6 so that means I should operate from the head and I do think a lot and definitely relate to the fear and worrying, but I’m also INFJ, and when I’ve done Myers Briggs tests my feeling is consistently way stronger than my thinking!

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      I totally see what you’re saying, Lesley. The 6s I know seem to feel things pretty strongly too. The only way I can reconcile it is that maybe those feelings originate from the thoughts they’re thinking about? That’s the case with my own fears anyway; it’s the crazy scenarios that I imagine in my head that cause me to worry. 😉

      Maybe someone will weigh in here who can explain it.

      However, it is a good reminder that not everything about the Enneagram is accurate for every person. Some things fit; some things don’t.

  3. blankCarolyn Seymour Thomas

    I definitely operate from my gut. I’ve made my life’s biggest decisions with zero research, and I have to say I haven’t regretted them! Research, for me, leads to analysis paralysis. And, boy, is that frustrating. Awesome post–I’ll be spending more time on this tonight! Thanks!

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      Oh, I would love to trade places with you gut people sometimes. 🙂 I’m much slower on making big decisions because I have to do all the research first. lol. It’s crazy to me how different we all can be. God is so creative!

  4. blankLaurie

    Hmmm…this is the one time my own self-assessment doesn’t exactly line up with the Enneagram’s assessment. I will have to think on this some more. My # is 7. I tend to first view any given situation with my heart. If I have enough time, my head sometimes does take over, though.

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      Interesting that you said you’ll have to “think” on this some more. 🙂

      Maybe you use your heart because you’re a healthy 7, Laurie. If the goal is for us to learn to tap into all three modes when it’s appropriate, I’d take that as a win that you use both heart and head.

      Plus the Enneagram doesn’t get it right for everybody on everything. We’re all too diverse to be completely categorized, which is a beautiful thing. 🙂

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