The Enneagram Type Nine isn’t known as the Peacemaker for nothing. Their calm manner and ability to perceive everyone’s point of view help them heal the divides that prevent even the best-intentioned people from finding common ground.
But there’s something astonishing about Type Nines that surprises those who aren’t familiar with the complexities of the Enneagram – their dominant emotion is rage. And they wrestle with this emotion in ways you may not expect.
Anger and the Enneagram body types
The nine Enneagram types can be divided into three subgroups, known as triads or centers of intelligence, with three types in each triad. The triads are organized around a powerful negative emotion that each type in that triad will struggle to control and overcome.
Type Nines are in the gut or body triad, along with Types Eight and One. For these three types, the underlying issue is anger. However, each type deals with anger very differently:
- Eights tend to show their anger outwardly, in the hope of controlling it.
- Ones tend to repress their anger because anger is a negative emotion and Ones want to be seen as “good.”
- Nines tend to deny their anger because they don’t want to cause arguments or upset anyone.
The real Enneagram Nine, warts and all
Saying “Type Nine” and “angry” in the same sentence is confusing because, in most cases, Nines adopt a public profile that seems the exact opposite of what would be expected from someone with anger issues.
To start with, they are natural-born mediators who know how to dampen conflict. They’re always ready to bring people with different ideas together and help them find common ground. They’re also serial empathizers, able to put themselves in the shoes of others and see and feel things from their points of view.
But despite their diplomatic skills, Nines actually loathe conflict. They try to avoid it at all costs.
As mediators they try to get involved preemptively before things get out of hand. They feel drained and empty when sandwiched between two people who are legitimately upset and blaming each other for their problems. Rather than deal with the fallout from that, Nines will frame the situation as a “misunderstanding” rather than “irreconcilable differences.” This means they stay more optimistic about finding a solution than the situation really merits.
As you might imagine, Enneagram Nines dislike conflict even more if it directly involves them. They are conflict-averse to an extreme, and they have difficulty managing the torrent of unsettling emotions they experience when a conflict becomes unavoidable.
Type Nines hate being angry
Hidden within the Enneagram Nine’s pattern of conflict avoidance is a reluctance to deal with unacceptable emotions, most specifically anger.
They hate getting caught up in encounters that might cause them to be overly harsh, loud, aggressive or disagreeable. They hate being backed into a corner and forced to bring up old grievances. Type Nines worry that others will lose respect for them over such behavior but, more fundamentally, an angry outburst goes against their sense of personal integrity. Type Nines pride themselves on being ethical and controlled in all instances.
The other thing that’s happening is that Nines fear being perceived as too needy. They try to be easy going all the time to make a good impression, and thus deny their own needs by deferring to the needs of their companions. Eventually, they get mad at themselves for not being more assertive, and they get mad at their friends for not being more unselfish and considerate.
All of this is a perfect storm for a specific type of anger reaction. What we see is the Nine ignoring or denying their rising frustration as it gradually ratchets up and up until they find themselves on the verge of an explosion. It’s the equivalent of the child who makes the monster hiding in their closet disappear by pulling their covers up over their head while quaking underneath.
When they do finally let it out, the suddenness and intensity of their anger can shock those who assume this type is always mild-mannered.
And all that festering anger followed by the big emotional blow out can take a significant toll on the Enneagram Nine’s physical, psychological and emotional health if no changes are made.
Finding peace for the Peacemaker
Looking more deeply at the Nine’s personality profile, it is possible to spot some openings where anger can enter and take root in the life of the Enneagram Nine. These include:
- Relationships that lack intimacy
- Unsuccessful efforts to help others resolve their disputes
- Having their needs overlooked or neglected by others
- Chaotic or aggressive environments
- Feeling ignored or unimportant
- Harsh criticism
- Being taken advantage of
- Pressure and confrontation
If the Nine could express what they’re feeling in these situations right away, there probably wouldn’t be an anger issue. But it’s their desire to avoid conflict which guarantees their anger will escalate over time.
For Nines, the best advice is to tune into their anger triggers and see them as a wakeup call. There will be no peace for the Peacemaker unless they address the source of their anger directly. That may be through an honest and constructive conversation if they feel neglected or disrespected by another person, through deep inner reflection if they are dissatisfied with themselves, or by taking action to change their circumstances if life in general has been getting them down.
Fundamentally, the Type Nine Peacemaker must make peace with themselves before they can move on.
It is important to realize that Nines who struggle with anger could be headed for misery if they continue trying to repress their feelings instead of admitting to them. Self-awareness is synonymous with empowerment, and an Enneagram Nine who has become self-aware and empowered will actually become more efficient and effective as a Peacemaker. They will be calmer and feel a greater emotional balance, which will help them do what Nines do best – restore harmony, encourage unity, and foster a space of mutual respect and understanding.