The Enneagram & The MBTI: Heart Triad
Shame is the deepest wound and driving force of those in the second Enneagram Triad: the Heart Triad. The Heart Triad is composed of types Two, Three, and Four. Here we will examine which MBTI types are most likely to correlate with these three Enneagram types.
We could say that the MBTI types that are most prone to shame would feel the strongest connection with this Triad. Even though shame is an experience shared by all of humanity, certain people and specific types will find shame to be a central wound that affects them psychologically, spiritually, and even physiologically at the deepest levels.
Before digging into the technicalities of the MBTI and Enneagram, we would benefit from asking ourselves a simple question: What is shame?
At its simplest, shame is self-rejection. It is the impulse that drives us to consider ourselves unworthy of the life we want, the relationships we crave, and the meaning we desire. Shame is often behind the unconscious belief that we are undeserving of a life beyond the suffering we have experienced. And this belief only creates more suffering.
Those who experience shame must learn, among other things, to posit faith in themselves that they are indeed worthy. The particles of shame multiply the more we are unaware of their pull. Yet, though unaware, we dedicate most of our thoughts to reinforcing shame’s message. Do we have the courage to think otherwise?
To reiterate, this is one of the foundational principles behind the purpose of studying our personality altogether: to wake up. And to grow as a result of being awake. Our world doesn’t change while we are asleep. So, let us wake up some more together, and explore the wound of shame that is carried deeply by these three types.
Where does shame come from? While shame is self-rejection, shame comes (or begins) from outside-rejection. We were — or felt — rejected in our childhood. That is the experience of these three types.
It wasn’t constant rejection, necessarily. But it was consistent. This “rejection” was not simply getting picked last on the playground — though that didn’t help — but something deeper. We were rejected for who we were. And to our real identity, we have fallen asleep.
Maybe we were searching for love from our parents but didn’t feel their love until we did something for them, earned something to make them proud, or stood out from the rest so that they would give their attention. Maybe it wasn’t our parents. Maybe it was someone else — a teacher, mentor, or authority figure.
All three of these types compensate for their shame by “creat[ing] a self-image that they believe is preferable to their authentic self.” — Don Riso, The Wisdom of the Enneagram
This is the Enneagram story for these types, but what about the correlating MBIT types? Where does shame come from, according to the MBTI cognitive functions?
Shame is primarily rooted in low self-worth. Those with low Introverted Feeling (Fi) are most likely to experience shame — and identify with at least some aspects of Heart Triad. “Low” refers to Inferior, Nemesis, or Critic, and possibly Demon.
The road out for those in the Heart Triad is to become aware of their over-compensating tendencies. They must learn that chasing away shame temporarily through great effort does not heal the wound, but delays the only thing that can heal. What is it that heals shame? It must be an internal change.
Let’s dig into the types.
The Two — The Helper
“Twos come to believe three things. First, that they must put other people’s needs ahead of their own; second, that they must give in order to get; and third, that they must earn a place in the affections of others because love will not simply be given to them.” — Don Riso, The Wisdom of the Enneagram
The first type in the Heart Triad, the Helper, combats their shame through becoming essential to others. Helpers, however, carry an agenda behind their selfless giving. Being of assistance to others allows the Two to feel worthy and they expect to be desired because of their helpfulness. Without being helpful, they feel they are not worthy or able to be desired.
Being desired is only one facet of the Two. It is their method for extracting desire that distinguishes them from other types. With their deadly sin of pride, Helpers want others to need them, but they do not want to need anyone else. The Helper associates dependency with love and their pride pushes them to hold themselves above other people: everyone needs me, but I don’t need anyone.
Twos sacrifice their own needs and wants to be of service to others; and, in return, they will temporarily feel loved — or, at a minimum, feel they are deserving of love.
Because shame (low Fi) is one of the dominating factors in the Heart Triad, most Twos will likely be SFJs or NFJs. This also means that a Two will likely be a high Fe-users. If we could pick one function to represent the Two, it would be extraverted feeling (Fe).
ESFJ & ENFJ
An Fe-Hero is most likely to be a Two. As the Two’s energy moves outward to feel for others, it matches the Fe-Hero’s energy of compensating for their wound by also moving outward, toward people.
Both the ESFJ and ENFJ also have low Fi — Fi-Nemesis — which makes them worry about their sense of self-worth. They fight against it by giving extra effort through their Fe-Hero — along with their Se or Ne child — to please others.
The Ne-Child and Se-Child move toward a similar goal — especially paired with an Fe-Hero. An Fe-Hero and Ne-Child combination (ESFJ) wants to make people feel good and be desired — the two primary drives for the Helper.
The ENFJ will do similarly, but it is their Se-Child that wants to give others a pleasant experience. This differs slightly in application from the Ne-Child of the ESFJ but serves as a similar expression of the Two energy.
ISFJ & INFJ
The other two high Fe-users — both with Fi-Critic — could either be Twos themselves or carry strong characteristics of the Two. Both have powerful Fe-Parents, which obligates them to care for others and to be attuned to the values and feelings of others.
The Ne-Inferior of the ISFJ is naturally afraid of not being desired. An ISFJ might think to themselves: In order (Ti) to be desired (Ne), I should (Si) be helpful (Fe). You can see their cognitive axes at work here.
The INFJ’s Se-Inferior wants to become as essential to another person as possible. As Chase has referenced in the past, INFJs want to be the “most useful tool in the tool shed.” Their Se-Inferior has learned to barter being helpful for feeling loved.
The tendencies of both the SFJs and NFJs put them in the precarious position of potentially losing their sense of self. They lose their identity by giving it away to the people that they are trying to “help”. They must learn to view helping as only an extension of who they are and remember that there is more to them than other people’s problems.
Other Potential Two Types?
There are a few important variables to keep in mind when analyzing the Two. In many cultures throughout the world, women are generally instilled with the values of the Two: nurturing, comforting, being non-confrontational, etc. Regardless of their actual type, most women will demonstrate strong characteristics of the Two.
Besides the influence of gender, which types are likely to share with the Two? All Fe-users will likely demonstrate some Two-characteristics. The two NTPs, with their Fe-Child or Inferior — mixed with high Ne — are candidates for Two-behavior.
In general, those who relate to the Two will do so through their Extraverted functions. Fe is the most likely, with Ne and Se close behind. Te is not as relevant here as the other three.
Type Three — The Achiever
“It was very important to avoid failure because only winners were worthy of love.” — Helen Palmer, The Enneagram
The Achiever, often labeled as the most “fake” or “inauthentic” type, is deeply misunderstood. Yes, they can have a difficult time connecting deeply with people. Yes, they often value accomplishments above anything else. And yes, they can come across as being extremely superficial.
But, for the Achiever, it is not that they don’t want to connect deeply with people. It is not their accomplishments alone that they value, but what their accomplishments represent that they value. And all Threes have a deep wound that cautions them to protect — and hide — their authentic selves at all costs.
Threes have become convinced that they are only worthy of love only if they have significant accomplishments to back it up. An impressive degree or a high paying job are often among these. Trophies and “wins” in general are very important to them. And, most importantly, a reputation for being kind, smart, and reliable.
The higher they achieve, the more they can give themselves permission to be loved. Simply “connecting” with people provides some love, but connection feels to them like an inferior currency of love. They have learned to value status and achievement as a replacement for genuine love.
The Three is mixed when it comes to the direction in which energy flows, and can be home to a larger variation of Introverts and Extroverts than the Two and the Four — despite being in the same Triad.
We can see from the Three that status affects the perception of their self with. Status (Te), affects self-worth (Fi). These two functions come to the forefront when associated with the Three — particularly when one is in the Inferior slot. While in the Inferior, this wound of not feeling worthy until achieving something applies to both Fi and Te-Inferiors.
However, there will be a few MBTI types that still have strong Three-tendencies, though they will be sourced from a different cognitive stack.
There is arguably no stronger correlation between any type in the Enneagram and the MBTI than the Three ESTJ. With their powerful and optimistic Te-Hero, seeking status and achievement comes naturally to the ESTJ. And their Si-Parent acts as a stabilizing guide to allow them to achieve whatever they set their mind to.
Their Fi-Inferior makes it difficult for ESTJs to value themselves until they achieve that high status with their Te-Hero. This can make an ESTJ come across as superficial. Their inborn drive to seek external achievement is built on the purpose of earning internal validation.
The deadly sin of the Three is deceit. This motivates the ESTJ to present the mask of their achievements — their persona — as their actual self. For an ESTJ to overcome this sin, they must learn to present themselves as they are, and believe that they are worthy even without a Ph.D., a wall of trophies, or a high paying job.
INFP & ISFP
With their Te-Inferior, the INFP and ISFP are deeply afraid of being thought poorly of, for not having enough status, or for not gaining enough achievements to prove their worth. This drive pushes them to seek enough achievement and status so that the Inferior can be pacified.
Where the ESTJ and ENTJ use their achievements and status to protect their self-worth, INFPs use their self-worth to protect their fear of not having enough achievements or status.
Te-Heros use external achievements (Te) to buffer the internal wound (Fi). Te-Inferiors use internal worth (Fi) to buffer against the external wound (Te).
While the IxFPs’ prioritization of their self-worth (Fi-Hero) makes them a possible candidate for other types — the Nine and Four — it is part of the destiny of INFPs and ISFPs is to be more like their ESTJ and ENTJ counterparts. This happens when their Inferior moves to Aspirational. Most healthy INFPs and ISFPs carry a few characteristics of the Achiever and may be one themselves.
ENFPs can be a special case on the Enneagram. The in-born vulnerability of their Si-Inferior, Ni-Nemesis, and Fe-Critic do not inherently carry the wound that most Threes bare. ENFPs who relate to the Three do so optimistically, not through their wound or Inferior, but their optimistic functions.
Always aware of others’ perceptions, and desiring status through Te-Child, the ENFP works tirelessly with their Ne-Hero to create a perception of themselves that is maximally desirable. Like all Te-users to some extent, especially optimistic Te-users, this process instills strong characteristics of the Achiever. All Te-users naturally value status and achievement and may struggle to present themselves genuinely.
While ENFPs are more likely to be another type in the Enneagram, ENFPs can be Achievers. Tony Robbins is likely a Three.
Other Potential Three Types?
Any type who uses the Te-Fi axis will display some characteristics of the Achiever. Te-Parents, however, are less likely to display characteristics of the Three than all other Te-users. The Parent is secure and responsible, and their Fi-Child allows IxTJs to inherently value themselves more than an Fi-Inferior.
The ENTJ is more likely to be an Eight than a Three as they are more aggressive with their vision and are more concerned with testing others than a typical Achiever.
ESFPs share the Fi-Parent and Te-Child with their ENFP counterparts. Though ESFPs are often high-achieving and possess some traits of the Achiever, they are more likely to identify deeply with another type.
Type Four — The Individualist
“They base their identity largely on their emotions.” — Don Riso, The Wisdom of the Enneagram
The Romantic-inspired painting, The Death of Chatterton, provides a case study of the Four: The Individualist. Quaintly also known as: “The Romantic”.
The temperamental, self-absorbed, and creative type Four makes a point to stand out from the crowd. The Four’s deepest wound is that of being depersonalized. Their wound comes from feeling they were not valued for their identity, nor recognized or appreciated for their distinct characteristics.
Fours may have been typecast as children where their input and contributions were not recognized or valued. This could have extended from being part of a large family or resulted in being in an environment where the collective expectations held extreme priority over individual differences. This is often the case in religious upbringings.
Fours try so hard to be different that they can entirely forget who they really are.
The Four turns inward to compensate for their wound. They focus on their deep hurts and flaws and are especially regretful about their past. They identify with brokenness and are afraid of being perfectly functional. To be functional robs their identity of the weight of their suffering. Dysfunction may become their identity.
The function most associated with the four is Introverted Feeling (Fi). The prioritization of one’s own mood — which also contributes to the creative power of the Four — resonates deeply with high Fi-users. But Fi-users are not the only ones who feel ties with the Four.
Se-Inferiors will likely feel ties with the Four too. Se-Inferiors compete for attention. Having their Se in the Inferior slot produces fear that they will not be able to extract the attention that they need. Se-Inferiors will often go out of their way to emphasize their individuality as compensation for their fear of abandonment.
INFP & ISFP
The emotional depth and the endless well of expression that comes with Fi-Heros provides a strong tie with the Four archetype. IxFPs can be writers, painters, photographers, or spiritual teachers. They value personal expression above all else.
With their Te-Inferior‘s built-in-fear of their reputation and what others think of them, IxFPs often overcompensate by over-emphasizing their Fi — mood, feelings, and wounds — to protect their Te-Inferior. This may even go to the point of not developing their Inferior entirely. Again, the threat of being too functional looms large in the mind of the Four.
This can cause IxFPs to take on the role of “rebel without a cause”, purposely going against trends and expectations to separate themselves from the crowd.
Carrying the weight of being deeply misunderstood causes IxFPs to steer into the characteristics that make them mysterious and unpredictable. All Fours are terrified of revealing their “true” selves because the last time they did — likely in early childhood — they were rejected; or worse, ignored.
From that deep wound came their tendency to continue to try to be misunderstood. However, the Four walks in a paradox. One of their deepest desires is to be understood and accepted for who they truly are. They may idealize a possible lover who will finally get them.
But the Four also stifles any attempt to be understood by others. When they fly too close to the sun, where they may finally find that connection, they sink back into woundedness even when healing is available. When others get closer, they withdraw. And when others withdraw, they yearn to get closer.
When Jesus asked the crippled man, “Do you want to be healed?”, he may well have been speaking to a Four.
The Four may believe that happiness and connection are boring, but brokenness is not. In order to find healing, the Four must learn that there is a realm of expression available to them through healing. And that this realm is not boring. And that they will not be robbed of the weight of their suffering.
Through their Se-Inferior and Fi-Critic, INFJs hold themselves to high standards of perfection — both moral and performative. While the Se-Inferior causes INFJs to over-emphasize their individual characteristics, there is another Se-related reason many INFJs are Fours.
The deadly sin of the Four is envy. The deadly sin — so to speak — of Se-Inferior is comparison. Se-Inferiors feel threatened when others perform better than they do. This often makes INFJs envious of how others “have it better” than them. The INFJ is likely to struggle the most with comparison as the act of comparing negatively (Se-Inferior) is tied to their self-worth (Fi-Critic).
Envy causes INFJs to become increasingly self-absorbed and simultaneously fixated on others, instead of believing their genuine expression to be adequate. They seek perfection as an antidote to their wound. Perfection is an attempt to set themselves apart.
But seeking perfection will only make them more envious because they will project that perfection on others, believing that they themselves are incapable of being valuable in the way they see others being.
The INFJ needs to learn to consciously interrupt the flow of comparisons between their idealized and real self. They must act from their true nature, extending the grace they give to others to themselves.
They must learn, as Chase says, that perfection is not only fake, but boring. But they must also learn to cultivate confidence in themselves, and guide themselves with humility so that, when the time is right, their Inferior may go Aspirational, and they will succeed in whatever they pursue.
Other Potential Four Types?
INTJs will likely display some Four characteristics, though most of them will belong to another archetype.
Many ISTPs are performing artists and may have one of their wing types in the Four, even though their primary archetype will also be another type.
Artistically inclined ENFPs are also likely to identify with aspects of the Four as well.
If we examine closely, we can see how each type compensates for their wound by the direction of their energy.
The Two is outward focused, meaning that they go toward other people to compensate for their internal wound. They deal with their shame by extracting feelings of worthiness and validation from others.
The Four retreats into his or her own world, sinking into imagination, exploring his or her emotions, and drawing from a source of deep creativity. They do this to compensate for the external wound of not being heard or seen by others for who they really are.
The Three compensates through a combination of going toward people and withdrawing into themselves. They relate to people through their status and achievements, and also go inward to explore their emotions, just to a much lesser degree than the Four does.
In the end, shame challenges us to see if we can learn to value ourselves as we are, or to test if we need a constant external source to make the shame duller. The weight of shame can only be lifted when we give ourselves permission to be worthy, even if we don’t believe we are. Perhaps when Jesus said this, he was talking to these three types: “Physician, heal thyself!”