In this episode of the Awareness to Action Enneagram Podcast, Mario Sikora, María José Munita and Seth "Creek" Creekmore share more thoughts on the Patterns of Expression. They break down the terminology through analogies and how patterns of expressions are more of a profile and less of a stack or an order.
“It’s hard not to think of them as 1, 2, 3. So are they all on level ground? Are they all glasses in front of you and you’ve just tend to pick one up more than the other? Is it like a rate of flow?” - Seth "Creek" Creekmore [06:33]
“And to me, it helps to think about it as a profile rather than me with three different aspects that are independent. They’re not independent.” - María José Munita [10:05]
“People often seem to think of it as almost switching in some way. I’m being self-pres now, but I’m navigating, now I’m being social. Now I’m being this. As if it’s like three different subway stops almost that visit instead of just being this soup of complexity that has particular patterns that we see.” - Mario Sikora [11:29]
[01:21] An advantage to the pattern of expression’s order?
[02:25] Why it’s called pattern of expression
[06:23] More a profile than an order
[12:32] It’s about intention
[16:51] Language is another example
[19:44] Any sense of the pattern of expression?
[24:30] Be careful with leap of inference
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Pod: Enneagram in a Movie
Maria Jose Munita:
Seth "Creek" Creekmore:
Pod: Delusional Optimism
Welcome back to another episode of…Mario:
You were gonna do it again. You were gonna do it again, The Fathoms thing. So you’re king of the Enneagram podcast, Creek. You can’t even keep them all straight.Creek:
And I even do like the same vocal inflections, so I need to figure out how to differentiate it. But anyways, welcome to another episode of the Awareness to Action Enneagram podcast. My name is Creek and along with me I have two of my favoritist Enneagram people in the world, Maria Jose and Mario Sikora.María José:
Wow, that was a nice introduction.Creek:
I can be nice sometimes.Mario:
Favoritist Enneagram people is like an analogy I just heard today. It's like being the tallest building in Schenectady. Schenectady is a small town in New York with not a lot of tall buildings. So you know, being the tallest building doesn't mean that muchMaría José:
Don’t ruin it for me, Mario. I thought it was nice.Mario:
I felt good about it. So what do you need as an introduction, Mario? What would satisfy your…Creek:
I'm happy to be the tallest building in Schenectady.Creek:
Ok, so this episode kind of came up. It's a little off what we were planning on doing. But I had a thought occurred to me. And it led to some good thoughts and why Awareness to Action does the things that they do. And honestly, what frustrates most people. So…Mario:
So what frustrates most people about what we do or what?Creek:
Yeah. So pattern of expression, the biggest issue that most people have is that you have a set order. And we've talked a little bit about not necessarily why but what you've observed. So I brought up the question of, if you all had actually thought through, is there an advantage on some level for the stacking, the pattern of expression, to be as it is? So is it actually an advantage for navigators to have an indifference to preserving or something like that? So just take it from there. And we'll rehash this conversation that we already had.Mario:
Yeah, so it's a great question. And it's one we've talked about a number of times over the years. I mean, we've looked into this. But first, before we even jump into that, I want to say, I want to comment on something else you said there around the ordering. And we specifically try to avoid the word ordering, and focus on what we call pattern of expression for very specific reasons. And I can give a really vivid example of this.
So a lot of people talk about stacking. So I’m most this. I’m most that. Second most this. Second most, the third thing, and we don't like that metaphor, because it treats them as independent things. And what we're saying is that these instinctual domains express themselves in us in a particular way: a zone of enthusiasm, a zone of inner conflict and a zone of indifference. Now, if you want to call that a stack, and if you want to call that an ordering — first, second, third — that's fine. But we're not thinking about it at 1-2-3. We're thinking about it as just this way, this way, and this way,María José:
Can you can you do that with less visual, more…?Mario:
There you go. So for dear listener, I was making circles with my hand up. So again, the idea being that, okay, these instinctual behaviors manifest themselves or express themselves in us in particular ways. And it's about that rather than the order. Now, also, we always tell people, you have to look at our definitions of what we're saying instead of thinking about other definitions.
And I was doing a workshop recently on Zoom, and discussing this very thing. And a woman says to me, well, you know, when I look at your definitions and your terminology, the pattern you describe fits me, but that's not my sequence. And so I said, okay. All I'm saying is that according to these definitions, and these terms, here's how it works. I'm not talking about what your internal experience of yourself is. I'm talking about how these things manifest themselves in the way I'm describing. Alright.
So for me, that was a good example of people getting frustrated, because when they understand our terminology, they see it. And if they're still stuck in other terminology that they're trying to force into it, or if they're looking at how they feel rather than how these things actually show themselves in their lives, they won't see it.María José:
And I want to stress the point that you said that it's what people get frustrated about, but it is the people who are really wedded to another approach. When we work with clients or with people who are not familiar with the approach or the Enneagram, there's no resistance. It makes sense pretty easily. And what's interesting to me is that if people would relax into these concepts and give it a try, they would see how useful it is. And that's, to me, it's not even sad, but I wish that people would be more open to it because it is really practical.Mario:
And you know what, there's a part of me that doesn't really care if other people adopt it. Because when it comes to using the Enneagram in organizations, it gives us a competitive advantage that I'm happy to have of understanding how these things actually work in the real world. So you know.Creek:
So help me a little bit more. So it's not stacking. It's part of of expression, that but immediately, and this is just an issue with a lot of different things, but it's hard not to think of them as 1-2-3. So are they all on level ground? Like are they all glasses in front of you? And you just tend to pick one up more than the other one? Is it like a rate of flow? Where, for me navigating is like all the way open. And then… Give me an analogy that's more level and not as hierarchy.Mario:
So for me, here's the analogy. So imagine, you could score a point for every time you think about one of these instinctive issues, every time you act on one, every time you pay attention to one. So there's something tallying or keeping track of your attention. And you plot that on a graph. You're going to see a trend line, and you're going to see that much more of your attention, much more of those points are tracking to one of these domains than the other two. And there will probably be a disproportionate and I'm just making numbers up here. Don't hold me to these numbers. But it might look like 60-30-10.
But the reason we don't like to think of them as stacking is because there's a lot of interweaving in these things. And we very often do, you know, for example, as Navigators we’ll do preserving things in a navigating way, or to satisfy a navigating need. So what are you giving that point to in our scoring system here? Even though it's a preserving activity, are you really giving it… Should it get a preserving point, or should it get a navigating point, et cetera, right? So it's messy. It's again, you know, if we go back to our turnip stew do analogy, it's like, where does the turnip ends and the beef begins? Okay.
So I know that it's tempting to think of stacking. And that's the path to simplistic thinking, in my view, if you get caught in that analogy becoming the real thing. And so we have somebody like this person saying, oh well, when I look at it the way you define it, that's me, but that's not my sequence. Because I have this definition in my mind.María José:
Yeah, it's more a profile than this ordering. And we've evolved. I mean, we used to not never call it stacking, but ordering.Mario:
We would call it primary, and we would talk about ordering: primary, secondary, etc.María José:
And we keep seeing how it is more complex than that. And it pretty much navigators, preservers and transmitters, manifest each domain in a different way. And it's not necessarily which one is first. Because for example, as a navigator I might be doing and paying attention to a lot of navigating things without noticing it. So if you ask me to plot those points on the chart, I might not even notice that I'm thinking about those things. So it is tricky as Mario was saying. And to me, it helps to think about it as a profile, rather than me with three different aspects that are independent. They're not independent.Creek:
When you say profile, can you explain? Can you define that? how you're saying it.María José:
So again, continuing with the navigator, it's you have navigating, and as Mario was saying before, you transmit in particular ways. So he might be doing a lot of transmitting. Like now, I'm launching my website and doing more and more active on social media, but I am doing it as a navigator. I am not doing it as a transmitter would. I think about what my audience, what are they going to think. I'll do it. It's a stretch for me.
It is a different way of transmitting and more inhibited in terms of how much I say about myself. So it is different, and then preserving, I need to do, but I do as a navigator. So it's very different from a preserver, and how are transmitted would preserve. So my profile as a navigator includes navigating a particular way, transmitting a particular way, preserving in a particular way.Mario:
Yeah, people often seem to think of it as almost switching in some way. I'm being self-pres now, but now I'm being navigating or social or now I'm being this. As if, you know, again, it's like three different subway stops, almost that I visit instead of just being this soup of complexity that has particular patterns that we see.
And the other thing, Creek, is for the clients that we work with, who never get introduced to this idea of a stack, or never get introduced to this idea of one, two or three, it's not an issue. The ideas tend to serve as an anchor, and we could talk about anchoring biases about how once you get an idea in your head, you keep sort of getting drawn back to it subconsciously. So the idea of stacking or the idea of one, two and three, are an anchor that people struggle to get rid of.Creek:
Would the analogy work in which you had the zone of enthusiasm, like as the big lenses in front of you. And then on either eye is the transmitting and preserving. And you're just normally using one eye more than the other? Because we're always doing the other two in our zone of enthusiasm, correct? Like I'm always going to be navigating as… Or I’m always gonna be preserving or transmitting as a navigator. So it seems to be some sort of lens that is primary.Mario:
There is and here's a better analogy for me that I'd like to introduce. Every supermarket, at least in the US that you go into, you walk in the front door, and the produce is usually on the right side. And other stuff are on the left. They’re designed pretty much the same way. Now, sometimes you'll see it backwards. But the idea is it's because they know when people walk in to a supermarket, there's going to be this bias to turn right. And so when most people walk into the supermarket to do their shopping, that's just what they naturally do.
Now, if you go to the supermarket because all you need is ice cream and a gallon of milk, you'll sort of pull yourself out of it, and you won't make that right turn but instead you'll go to wherever those products are. So it's kind of the same for me is that we just tend to go that way, unless there's some reason not to. And that tends to be circumstantial. So for me, it's about attention. And I like your analogy, but again, I think it involves a bit more switching rather than just intentionality and attention and direction.María José:
He didn’t like it.Mario:
It’s not working.Creek:
It's not helping y’all. Yeah, okay. All right. Go ahead. Keep going.Creek:
Well, I don’t want to take the whole episode pushing on this, but because at least in that and maybe analogies always break down, I realized that but even in that, like, it's not that you're going to pick up milk while holding vegetables, or while taking the vegetable area with you. Like how can you go pick up milk through the vegetable aisle?Mario:
Yeah. This is true. And again, you're right. All analogies will… Now we can imagine that our shopper is a vegetarian. And so I'm kidding. No, I'm joking. It was only a joke. Yeah, they're all going to break down.María José:
yeah, so let me share one.Creek:
We're just gonna keep stabbing and see what happens.Mario:
No, it’s fine. No, because I think it's important.María José:
So to me, if I think of a profile, think about people from different states in the US. So they all do pretty much the same amount, I mean the same things. Everybody eats. Everybody works. But there are different kinds of cultures, where they approach things in different ways. Now, if you think about different countries, and you think about, I don't know, China or Germany and the states, you probably get people doing similar things, but through different lenses with different values and things like that. To me, it's more like that. So they're all human beings. But they have a different culture that shapes the way in which they address things, they prioritize, what they value, but it's a set of things that make them from China, from Germany or from that culture. To me, it's more like thatMario:
Actually, something popped in my mind. And I liked that María José. And for me, language is another example. And so you're a good example. So you're multilingual unlike me, and so you think in Spanish, but there are times when you don’t. There are times when you think in English, and that will be a little bit different. And when you speak, even if you're speaking English, it still carries some of the Spanish accent, the Chilean accent in specifically. So it has this flavor, even though you're speaking English, you're still doing it as a native Spanish speaker. And I think you speak a bit of French too, right? Or something? So at least for the purposes of our analogy, let's pretend you do.María José:
German if you want to as well.Mario:
Ok, German. So again, the German would, you know, there might be circumstances where you would just naturally go into a language. And I know for you, there's a lot of situations where you just naturally go into English, and even think in English. But there's still this overlay of Spanish in your mind.
For me, I learned some Ukrainian and my wife's family's Ukrainian. And when our kids were little, we were trying to have them learn Ukrainian. And I, for years, would reprimand my kids in Ukrainian without thinking about it. Now, if somebody who actually speaks Ukrainian is hearing me doing it, they're gonna say, Geez, that's pretty crappy Ukrainian. But it just kind of happened, you know, but it was Ukrainian through the lens of somebody who speaks English from the US. Okay, so…María José:
Which analogy did you prefer, Creek?Creek:
They were both awesome. You can go ahead and say that.Creek:
No, I think I mean, they're both hitting. They're hitting better.Mario:
We can agree that it was both of them were better than my supermarket analogy.Creek:
All right. Good.María José:
Let him talk.Creek:
I thought we agreed you not using food analogies on this podcast? Yeah, that helps a little bit more. And I think that's a little bit clearer and doesn't break down as quickly. Jerome Lubbe uses a similar analogy, where he talks about centers of intelligence and type and subtype and that sort of thing and equates it to like your country, your county or your home. Just like that sort of analogy.
And me going to Paris, I'm always going to be an American in Paris as much as I don't want to be and what that represents. But yeah, that is helpful for me. Alright, so we're coming… I'm going to bring us back to kind of the original thing.Mario:
The original question.Creek:
23 minutes in which is the original question of is there any sense of the pattern of expression? And you jumped into…Mario:
What I felt like talking about.María José:
But it was the evolutionary advantage that you were asking about.Mario:
Yes, so is there an evolutionary advantage? Yeah.Creek:
Is there and then you said there may be, but we don't teach that because and then you can take it from there.Mario:
So I'll touch on that. So, María José and I talked about this a number of times over the years, is there a cause to this pattern? And people love to look for causes. There's just something in human nature that seeks causation. And we tend to project causation all over the place. It’s actually a trick of the mind called agenticity, where we look for some agency behind everything that happens, some cause.
And it's easy to settle on identifying a causal mechanism. Oh, I'm an Eight because this happened to me in my childhood or that happened to me. Or I'm a Four, because this happened or that happened. And those are what Rudyard Kipling referred to as Just So Stories. He wrote a book of short stories called the Just So Stories that retro actively explained why a zebra had a long neck and why a rhinoceros had a horn, and an elephant had a trunk and all these sorts of things. Because you can't prove it wrong, but it's a convenient story.
And so we could look at, say, the transmitting domain. So if somebody's transmitting, it makes sense. Now again, I'm creating a Just So story here, I'm not stating a fact or even an opinion. It makes sense from one perspective that if I want to transmit things, I have to have low inhibition. Because otherwise I won't express myself. Now, where does our inhibition tend to come from? From the navigating domain where we worry about what people are thinking. We're reading the minds of others and assessing how they're assessing us so that we can modify our behavior accordingly.
Well, if I want to be an effective transmitter, there's a certain logic we could suggest that says, well, then it makes sense that navigating would be last. As a navigator, it makes sense that preserving would be last. Preserving is all about staying safe in the nest. Navigating is all about going out and seeing what's happening outside of the nest. With preserving, if staying safe, and holding on to my resources and staying under the radar is what is satisfying to me, well then it makes sense that I don't bring a lot of attention to myself, because what does that do? Well, it attracts the eyes of predators. It attracts the eyes of people who will take advantage of us and threaten us and so forth. So we could assume a logic to this. And we could feel really good about rationalizing it, justifying it and saying, that's why this happens. But I just made that stuff up.María José:
Yeah. And it would be so much easier to get people to buy.Mario:
To buy in.María José:
Yeah, to buy into it, because we all love to hear these Just So Stories that it makes sense. Oh, then it's true, because there's a story around it, it'd be a lot easier for us to teach it that way. But we resist it.Mario:
Because they're non falsifiable, right? And so every so often, a new theory comes along. So these types are like this, and those types of like that because of attachment theory or object relations or something, and it's good story. No way to falsify, okay, and when it comes to science, most of science is based on the idea of falsification. The Karl Popper idea of, I want to try and disprove something. We can't disprove that. So interesting idea. Might be true, might not be true. So let's just focus on what we can empirically observe and what the relevance of it is and what we can do about it.María José:
Yeah. And if we go back to the profile idea, we see these profiles where they're these set of characteristics. Do we know if one is the cause of the other or if they're together because one triggers the other one in a particular way? We have no idea. We just know that they are there.Creek:
And it doesn't harm anything to look into those things, right? To attachment theory or object relations, and in a lot of ways it can shed some light on some really great things that will help you grow. But knowing how to hold that is what we're talking about.Mario:
Yes. Look, I'm not criticizing any of those ideas. They're all useful in their own right. But we have to be careful about leaps of inference. And this is the thing that always… A leap of inference is, okay, I know this to be true. What can I infer from that? And small leaps of inference are useful. Big leaps of inference are dangerous. And we have to recognize when we are really just kind of speculating.
I was listening to a talk some months ago, and the people were… they were talking about the history of the Enneagram. And they'd say, now we're not claiming this is true, but if it was, then boom, right? Well, okay, maybe, but that's just a thought experiment. It doesn't prove anything.
There's a writer named Robert Wright, who's written about Buddhism and science and some other things. And I remember listening to an interview with him where he would say, Now, I'm not saying that evolution works this way. But if it did, then this would be the next thing. And then this would be, and it's like, well, wait a minute timeout dude. I can't put any weight on that if it did, then Because we don't know if it does or not.María José:
Yeah. And some people take it, too. Yeah, they draw too many, many implications out of it. I remember years ago, somebody, she was my teacher. And we were talking about my type at the beginning. And for some reason, I took this assessment, and I came out of a set as a seven. And she said, No, you can't be a seven because that would mean that your mother was neglected kind of teaching you or neglected being loving with you. And it's like, really? So they take it as a fact. And it's dangerous.Creek:
Well, I'm not saying I can fly, but if I could.María José:
You would come to Chile.Creek:
I would come to Chile right away.María José:
So you’re coming, Creek? That’s what I'm hearing, right?Creek:
Someday. Yes. Yeah.Mario:
So I think it's helpful to talk about why critical thinking skills are so important in general for people working with the Enneagram. I mean, because, again, understanding that falsification is one of the fundamental principles of science. It helps us to not be too wild by an embracing of leaps of inference or Just So Stories.Creek:
So as we close out this episode, we're gonna be talking about a little bit more in depth as an introduction to some of these concepts in the next episode. And then in the future, we'll have more in depth episodes about specific ways in which we can think critically about the Enneagram. So tune in next week for more clear thinking.Outro:
Thanks for listening to the Awareness to Action Enneagram podcast. If you're interested in more information or talking to Mario, MJ or myself, feel free to reach out to us through the links in the show notes or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. All episode transcriptions and further information can be found at awarenesstoaction.com/podcast.