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3 ancient operating systems

(Photo (c) Jaya Julienne Ashmore, 2020.) I am grateful to the ways my friends and students continually enrich my ways of experiencing and noticing the world and people, including myself. I especially love tools to help us understand how we are different from each other--maybe a framework to remind us that our differences are just differences. To remind us that we can forgive each other in advance for having different styles of mind, different needs, and different compulsions. Maybe we can even find harmony, sometimes.

Among the so many systems out there, the Enneagram framework describes 3 instinctual styles or "operating systems" (in addition to the 9 main Enneagram personality/strategy types): ~Survival or self-preservational--some of us walk into a room and automatically scan for what might help us survive or enhance our own comfort, safety, health, shelter, etc. People who rely on this operating system may not realize they are doing it. They may not realize that not everyone does that kind of scanning. "Where did you get that water bottle? How much did it cost?" "Are you done with that?"

~Sexual (meaning focused towards one-to-one chemistry and bonds)--some of us may be intensely present for some time, and then disappear...because now we are intensely bonding with someone else. It's not that we meant to reject you...but everything else fell away into the background of the one foreground other. People who rely on this operating system may be less concerned about following rules, because intensity is more important than responsibility or steadiness.

~Social--some of us may walk into a room and our radar immediately goes to how other people are feeling and acting, and to whether others are noticing and appreciating our place in the social circle: "Is everyone ok? Is my situation in this group secure? Do I belong? Do they like me?" Some of us may recognize more than one of these modes in our "operations." When we know that we have been "practicing" and reinforcing one or two of these styles for much of our lives, we can relax our usual radar, and start to be interested in being more well-rounded...A social type can practice thinking of her or his own basic needs...and sexual type can back up and feel the group, or tune in and feel her or his own feet...and of course, a self-preservationist can relax enjoy the party.

To read what the experts have to say about the enneagram and subtypes:

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