Aug 3, 2022

Stop Petting My Peeves: How to Identify (and Tame!) Your Enneagram Personality Activators

The glass text alert dinged, and I opened the preview at my kitchen table. I just dropped my phone on the placemat. I clenched my jaw, closed my eyes, and shook my head. 

The grey bubble lacked logic and overflowed with pessimism and negativity. I read the text to my daughter who confirmed — it didn’t make sense.⁣

I’d like to say I was fully accepting and breezily moved past without a blip. Yeah, no… I got all kinds of whipped up. My personality going into overdrive, getting some fuel from my kiddo.⁣

And then, I remembered. This happens to me. I get all up in arms when there is illogical negativity or a lack of options. My personality gets activated because I feel frustrated, trapped, and limited.

What about you? Do you know what predictably
toasts your cheese?
chaps your hide?
gets your goat?
ruffles your feathers?

More importantly, do you recognize why it’s happening? 

For most of us, when we don’t know why, those activators trigger denial, blame, deflection, aggression, and other defense mechanisms that prevent effective leadership and hinder healthy relationships.

BUT HOW?? You know what ruffles your feathers but can’t seem to get them smooth again!

Here’s the quick process:

  1. Identify the activators.
  2. Notice when the activator happens.
  3. Choose a different response.

The Enneagram is a personality framework that shows us the important whys behind throwing phones and getting all up in arms! Here are activators for each Enneagram type and a few options to try to smooth those feathers.

Enneagram Ones

ActivatorsSee what happens if
Feeling criticized or scrutinized.
Deception, irresponsibility, or laziness.
Lack of completing commitments.
Ask questions instead of judgment.
Show gratitude.
Find multiple right ways.

Enneagram Twos

ActivatorsSee what happens if
Feeling taken for granted.
Feeling rejected or unheard.
The advice you’re giving is unappreciated.
Have patience in listening instead of inserting yourself to solve.
Ask questions in that lead others to solve for themselves.

Enneagram Threes

ActivatorsSee what happens if
Feeling embarrassed or losing face.
Experiencing blame for someone else’s poor performance.
Not getting validation or recognition for accomplishments.
Getting stuck in a situation where failure is likely.
Practice honestly sharing when you feel embarrassed or other potentially “unsuccessful” feelings.
Have patience when others move at a different pace.
Take the time for others’ emotions.

Enneagram Fours

ActivatorsSee what happens if
Feeling your contributions or unique viewpoint isn’t valued.
Not seen as special or different or authentic to who you are. Just like everyone else.
Situations that stir up envy.
Practice emotional processing and regulation so feelings don’t pull you into a different reality.
Dig out the root or foundation of what is upsetting.
Remind yourself that you are not missing something others have.

Enneagram Fives

ActivatorsSee what happens if
Feeling surprised or obligated.
Someone has broken confidence, your privacy, or been dishonest.
Not having the space to be with yourself to process and recharge.
Label and express your emotions externally.
Ask for help and what you need.
Purposefully have times to engage and times to recharge. Communicate those to others.

Enneagram Sixes

ActivatorsSee what happens if
Experiencing blame or unfair accusations.
Someone questioning your genuine concern or desire to help.
Having your anxieties or concerns dismissed.
Lack of loyalty.
Ask clarifying questions.
Remind yourself you can make good decisions.
Calm your inner world before jumping into important communication
Share your concerns and responsibilities with others.

Enneagram Sevens

ActivatorsSee what happens if
Feeling limited, dismissed, or not taken seriously.
Illogical negative emotions.
Unjust criticism.
Mundane, menial, repetitive tasks.
Accept that not everything is always exciting.
Listen to others who need to work out their thinking, not as quickly as you.
Find the root issue to solve rather than just reframing to a positive idea.
Choose to be present rather than escape.

Enneagram Eights

ActivatorsSee what happens if
Indirect solutions and communications.
Surprises and manipulations.
Unaddressed injustices or irresponsibility.
Resist jumping to debate and dismissal when listening to others.
Learn to dial back your intensity and ask others to help with that.
Don’t assume surprises are betrayals. Ask open questions.

Enneagram Nines

ActivatorsSee what happens if
Directly confrontations, especially without warning.
Feeling any break in harmony or relationships.
Feeling overlooked or unseen.
Pushed to hurry or decide.
Choose to notice and acknowledge your anger and identify the correct source.
Ask for time to decide what you want and make a choice.
Learn to ask for what you want or state your perspective. It will not break relationships.

So…how about you? What gets you irritated and activated and possibly throw a phone across the room? 

Lean into your curiosity. What happens if you make some tiny changes when your personality wants to turn you into something other than your best self?

New to the Enneagram? Here’s a quick introduction to this amazing personality framework.



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