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The Three Centers


> The Heart Center: 2,3,4
> The Head Center: 5,6,7
> The Body Center: 8,9,1

Feeling/Emotional Center
Image, Sadness, Shame

Everyone feels the emotions of the Heart Center. We all know how it feels to grieve, to love, to long, to feel another's pain, to sense when someone else is sad despite the smile on their face. These are the instincts, the intelligence and the "knowing" of the Heart Center.

The driving emotions of types Two, Three and Four are grief, sadness and shame. It's like a constant refrain of loneliness and unworthiness playing softly, sometimes imperceptibly, yet unrelentingly in the background.

This center is also known as the "image" center because of all three types' preoccupation with how others perceive them—how they come across to others. The sadness of these types results from substituting their image for their true self. Twos externalize sadness by trying to fix others' sadness. Threes have forgotten about their sadness, being optimistic and busy. Fours internalize their sadness by focusing on and amplifying their deepest emotions as that part that makes them special.

The shame these types feel results in them trying to construct images for themselves that will fix their dilemma of needing to bolster a real identity that was not seen or supported as children. The resulting feeling is that there was something wrong with them. So, all three types in the Heart Center attempt to escape their shame by making themselves seem valuable by their self-images. This manifests itself differently in each of the three types; Twos go all out to please others so they will be liked and therefore be valued. Threes strive intensely to make themselves successful or outstanding somehow so they will get value from being admired and approved of; and Fours make up beautiful deep, dramatic stories about themselves to get value from being special and unique.

Because Heart types are concerned, consciously or unconsciously, with prestige and image, they are usually quite responsible. In fact, Twos, Threes and Fours are so responsible that they assume that they are responsible for whatever is going on in their lives and the lives of everyone around them. If someone in their life feels needy, lonely, left out or disconnected, or if there is conflict, they assume it's somehow their fault—they did something wrong or did not do enough right.

Consequently, they are always doing—trying to make themselves good enough or right enough. The shame of never being able to do enough is so hard to bear that they increase their efforts in a never-ending cycle of continual activity.

Twos externalize grief and sadness. They feel others' feelings, empathize with their pain and try to heal others and meet their needs. Threes have basically just forgotten their grief, repressing it under the facade of successful image and avoiding it by staying constantly busy. Fours represent internalized grief with their focus on their own sadness and their stories of loss and longing for what's missing. Twos are rescuers, Fours are rescuees, and Threes "don't need rescuing."1

The natural instinct of Heart Center types is to focus on other people. They innately ask "How do I feel about how you feel about me?" "Will you like me?" "Do you see me in a favorable light?" "Who am I with?" They are very sensitive (without even being aware of it) to the moods and feelings of others.

Twos, Threes and Fours experience themselves primarily in response to the feelings or behaviors of other people. Ironically, apart from others, they often have little real access to their own feelings. It is therefore hard for these types to be by themselves, and they keep busy doing things to get the love, attention and approval of others. They can be easily ruled by what others think of them. Because they are so attuned to what others are feeling, they often think they know what's best for others.

Heart types have primary issues around their ability to love and be loved. They look for connection and change themselves to get it. They are the shape-shifters. They design themselves to get the desired effect. They are also the scriptwriters.

They believe the stories they write about themselves and others and actually believe themselves to be the way they have designed themselves to be—the parts they are playing. Noted Enneagram author Don Richard Riso says, "They want to believe their own press releases."

Always doing and trying and still never being enough can end up as a general feeling of hostility as a defense against the shame experienced by this center which they act out on themselves or others. It shows up a little differently for each of the feeling types. Twos direct it out to others and get resentful and huffy if their many efforts are not appreciated the way they think they should be. Fours direct it in on themselves, punishing themselves and making themselves victims. Threes lie to themselves and others—the grand lie (which they believe) -- that they have no hostility.


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