Enneagram Type Three ~ Polarities
Enneagram Type 3 has the Primary Polarity of “Trying not to be seen as a loser.”
The Polarity of the Type shows a movement towards a set of qualities and a movement away from its opposites. Like a pendulum in an old clock, the Type is sustaining this duality. Once the Type grows to its highest expression, the polarities collapse into natural wholeness.
This means that Type 3 is masking and avoiding anything that has the power to rob them of being seen as the best. For Threes best means achievements, winning, getting there as fast as possible, looking good, attracting admiration.
Losing means shame, a lack of worth, being a nobody, having no value or significance.
A few Secondary Polarities for Threes at their lower expression:
- They choose to play the games that they can win at to avoid the humiliation of losing.
- Threes can prefer to cut corners to get to the goal quickly rather than carefully and slowly.
- They prefer to say “Yes I can,” than admit, “No I can’t do that.”
- They can charm instead of being authentic.
- At lower to medium expressions, they find it easier to wing it rather than humble themselves to learning through mistakes and consistent mundane work.
A few Secondary Polarities for Threes at their highest expression:
- Instead of choosing only to play the games that they can win they see the learning value of losing.
- Threes no longer cut corners to get to the goal quickly rather they work more carefully and slowly.
- They stop over-promising with too many “Yes I can,” answers, to humbly admit, “No I can’t do that.”
- They can charm by being authentic.
- At higher to medium expressions, they no longer wing it but rather humble themselves to learning through mistakes and consistent mundane work.
Enneagram Type Three ~ Personality Pearl
Type 3 has the InnerLifeSkills GREEN Pearl of Heart Emotional Need + Exaggerating + Been Seen + Worth Continuum.
This means that Type 3 is operating from a combination of the hearts emotional need, an unconscious avoiding of shame (think about the sensation of showing the world the face you feel hiding what you are embarrassed about in yourself), plus exaggerating certain qualities of self to been seen as worthy.
Add this to the Polarities and you understand the REASON for the behaviors of Type 3.
Examples of reasons for behavior:
- Threes use their emotional needs to drive action towards being seen as the best.
- Threes can avoid looking at their hearts shame, exaggerating a mask of confidence to appear as the best.
- Threes fall asleep to their anger because they feel it disturbing their peace.
If you understand the Personality Pearl + Polarities, you understand how the Type arises. This forms a part of the InnerLifeSkills 8 Step Coaching Typing Test Method, where we teach you to use a narrative style to coach your clients to understand all 9 Types, and using trademarked worksheets of the Pearls, Polarities and Types, you help a client to discover their type.
Infographic for Type 3 Enneagram
If you look at our InnerLifeSkills Enneagram infographic, you’ll see the body posture of pride, showmanship and look what I have accomplished smile.
You’ll see the eyes closed, enjoying the moment of acknowledgement – “Look at what I did, and so quickly.”
The star symbol on the chest is a reminder of the Primary Polarity to be a star, to be the best.
Here are some voices for Type Three (from our InnerLifeSkills Enneagram Coaches)
- “I don’t want to say no, so I over-promise and then stress.”
- “I look for ways to prove that I can, sometimes being so tunnel focused on success that nothing else matters.”
- “I don’t like talking about emotions and feelings, unless it’s motivation and inspiration.”
- “My partner better be driven like me, I want to be a power couple.”
- “I need new goals and challenges to feel happy.”
- “I’m charming, and I know how to get people to give me what I want.”
- “It took a lot to be courageous enough to face my shame and vulnerability, to learn to be more authentic.”
- “I didn’t recognize myself as a shame Pearl, because I’m so confident.”
Enneagram Type 3 Map for Growth
At the lowest expression Threes have created a false sense of achievement by polarizing away from the humility of learning and feedback.
“It’s only at my highest expression that I discover what real success is made of, that real success needs me to humble myself to what I used to think was failure, but now see as learning and feedback.”
Threes Lowest Expression
When our Enneagram Type is at its lowest expression, it tends to have a CLOSED door to its opposite polarized Type, denying the balancing qualities of that type, to restore wholeness. And it tends to have only one OPEN door to the other type, which because of the lack of balance, adds lower functioning qualities to the primary type.
- At Enneagram Type 3’s lowest expression, the energetic door to Type 6 which is their polarity opposite is closed. This means all the healthy functional qualities of Type 6 like asking for feedback, being humble to learning, diligent service, quality over quantity and work ethics are denied to Threes.
- Leaving the only energetic door open to Type 9 at its worst. This lets in the gut type resistance to reality, anger, ducking and diving, avoidance and heavy stuck procrastination.
“At my lowest expression, I tend to access the worst characteristics of Type 9, which means I procrastinate, feel depressed and slothful.”
“As a Type 3, when I go to 9, it’s avoiding conflict and not facing the music.”
“It’s all dreaming and to do lists and not wanting to just do the work.”
Threes Highest Expression
When our Enneagram Type 3 is at its highest expression, it tends to have a OPEN door to its opposite polarized Type, allowing the balancing qualities of that type to restore wholeness. And it tends to then also have an OPEN door to the other type, which because of the balance, adds more higher functioning qualities to the primary type.
- At Enneagram Type 3’s highest expression, the energetic door to Type 6 which is their polarity opposite is open. This means all the healthy functional qualities of Type 6 like humility, focusing on service, careful planning, action with integrity and are available to Nines.
- The other energetic door being open to Type 9 now adds its best. This lets in grounded peace, egoless vision and comfort with mundane ordinary repetitive work.
“At my highest expression as an Enneagram Type 3, I become focused on service, quality and substance over surface.”
“As a Type 3, when I access 6 I feel purposeful.”
“I can have success with meaning.”
“I still have goals and love feeling inspired but this feels like true fulfillment instead of empty chasing and moving the goal posts!”
Enneagram Type 3 Key Words & Voices
- I can be quite charming. I can flatter and get what I want from others. And I know how to work a room if I want to.
- I’m driven by goalposts, goals are very important to me. In fact, I feel lost without goals, even depressed.
- First place or number 1 is the only prize that I’m after.
- I want to do things quicker, easier and I want the most efficient way to do everything.
- I don’t want to fail, I want to just know what to do to succeed and get it done.
- I’m competitive even if I don’t show this because winning is everything.
- If I decide to engage in a hobby on the weekend, I can’t do this casually, I have to throw myself into it completely and strive to perform at the highest.
- The people in my life I believe also need to be striving towards winning. I don’t tend to tolerate losers.
- For me, everything is about achieving. I want to achieve so much in my life, there’s so much to do and very little time to do it.
Enneagram Type 3 Common Mistyping Misidentifications
Because Enneagram tests are limited, they are often unreliable, with a 50-60% accuracy. This is why we prefer a narrative, coaching approach to helping people to discover their types. Types share common behaviors, but differ in their Personality Pearl “grain of sand” hidden reason for behavior.
Here are a few common Type 3 mistypings showing what is in common and what ultimately separates the types. We train our Enneagram Coaches to use this type of thinking as a framework to ask clients enlightening questions, so that clients can weigh in on the coaching session to find their type (with the expert guidance of their InnerLifeSkills Enneagram Coach).
- TYPE 1 vs. 3: Both strive for excellence, 1 in favor of perfection and 3 in favor of winning. 1 follows the rules, 3 can bend the rules to get ahead. 1 can procrastinate getting stuck on details, 3 wants to move ahead quickly and can neglect details. 1 is an anger type who is learning to relax and let go, 3 is a self-worth type who is learning humility and service.
- TYPE 2 vs. 3: Both are sensitive to how they are seen by others, 2 wants to be seen as kind and 3 wants to be seen as successful. 2 needs to be needed, 3 needs to be achieving. 2 can be focused on pleasing others, 3 can be focused on impressing others. 2 is a self-worth type who is learning self-love, 3 is a self-worth type who is learning humility.
- TYPE 4 vs. 3: Both build self-worth through how they are seen, 3 wants to be seen as a winner, 4 wants to be seen as unique. 3 needs to achieve goals, 4 can lose to feel special. 3 can be out of touch with their feelings, 4 can live in drama. 3 is a self-worth type who is learning humility and service, 4 is a self-worth type who is learning to be functional and ordinary.
- TYPE 5 vs. 3: Both strive for competency, 3 to feel successful and 5 to prove their knowledge. 3 can wing it – pretend to know, 5 feels anxious about never knowing enough. 3 wants the quickest path, 5 holds themselves back by over thinking. 3 is a self-worth type learning humility and service, 5 is a fear type who is learning to be engaged and confident.
- TYPE 6 vs. 3: Both can work diligently, 3 to look successful and 6 to be diligent and calm their fear. 3 can wing it and cut corners, 6 may be too anxious to cut corners. 3 can glance over something then get into action, 6 can over think and procrastinate. 3 is a self-worth type learning humility and service, 6 is a fear type who is learning faith in self.
- TYPE 7 vs. 3: Both can be competitive and have fun, 3 to entertain and 7 to avoid boredom and be entertained. 3 competes to avoid the shame of losing, 7 for the adrenaline rush. 3 can be focused on success 7 can be focused on enjoyment. 3 is a self-worth type learning humility and service, 7 is a fear type who is learning focus and content stillness.
- TYPE 8 vs. 3: Both focus on strategy and winning, 3 to prove their worth 8 for power and to win the war. 3 cares about the opinion of others 8 cares less about how others see them. 3 can be charming, 8 can be harsh and direct. 3 is a self-worth type learning humility and service, 8 is an anger type who is learning compassion.
- TYPE 9 vs. 3: Both can be dreamers, 3 for their future success and 9 to avoid the impact of today. 3 needs personal goals and dreams, 9 needs a vision beyond their personal gain. 3 can get into action and work with speed, 9 can struggle to act. 3 is a self-worth type learning humility and service, 9 is an anger type learning to be assertive and present.