How to Better Understand the Gut Triad in the Enneagram

Do you love debate? Does going with the flow come easy? Do you struggle with perfection? Let’s look how to better understand the gut triad in the Enneagram.

As we dive deeper into the Enneagram this week, we are focusing on the Gut Triad. The Enneagram numbers 8, 9, and 1 all belong to the Gut Triad, also known as the Anger Triad. Each number represents a personality typology around their anger or “gut” feelings.

While 8’s embrace their anger and love debate, 9’s have a hard time conceptualizing their personal convictions, and 1’s struggle with the idea that perfection equates to love.

In our interview with the co-host of the God is a Dad podcast, we see what it’s like for Justin who identifies as a type 8 to be married to his wife who identifies as a type 9. While many people often view 8’s and 9’s as polar opposites, we are able to see that these numbers actually have a lot more in common than they appear.

Here is a quick intro on how to better understand the gut triad in the Enneagram.

All About Type 8’s

One of the biggest misconceptions about 8’s of the Enneagram is that they are angry people all of the time. I mean, when you realize that they typically identify as The Challenger type, who wouldn’t have this misconception?

I hear all of the time that 8’s aren’t capable of understanding those who aren’t like them. When they are in their more combative moods, 8’s can often come across as condescending because it always seems like they have a strong opinion about every thing in their lives. But, there is something we can learn from 8’s.

Typically speaking, 8’s don’t mean to come across as abrasive or overbearing. They honestly feel deeply connected to those they can ruffle up a bit because they view confrontation as intimacy. But that’s just the thing. There will be times in your life where you have to stand up for yourself if you want your relationships to survive. It’s not about walking over other people. However, it is necessary to voice your desires.

What We Can Learn From 8’s

Think about it. If you don’t identify as an 8, how often do you actively proclaim your needs to those around you? Do you ever notice that when you acknowledge problem areas in your life that you feel more confident? Have you ever felt closer to your spouse or significant other after having a hard talk because you valued the other person? I bet that in most cases, you actually felt stronger in your relationship because you were able to hash it out, even if it was hard.

This is something that we can definitely learn from 8’s as they value the intimacy of hard topics. 8’s value confrontation because it makes them feel closer to those around them. Though, we should always speak with love, kindness, and grace. But most of the time that means first being honest with ourselves. 8’s actually have a lot to offer when it comes to building strong communities and relationships.

All About Type 9’s

One of the biggest misconceptions about 9’s of the Enneagram is that they are lazy people who lack a sense of drive. With a name like The Peacemaker it can often come across as an excuse to avoid the hard conversations. But in reality, 9’s actually really value the people in their lives so much that they are able to let bygones be bygones.

I hear all of the time that 9’s are incapable of making decisions for themselves. With the forgive and forget like mentality, 9’s can often come across as neglectful of their own spirit. People often view this number with the idea that 9’s just agree with everything because they don’t want to be held responsible for their actions. But, there is something we can learn from 9’s.

What We Can Learn From 9’s

Typically speaking, 9’s don’t mean to come across as disconnected or lethargic. Essentially, they feel deeply by the way they harmonize so well with the people around them. 9’s at their very core are very great mediators. For 9’s their hearts line so well with other people that they don’t feel like they have to constantly prove their point of view. Of course other personality types, especially 8’s, can view this as weak and simple minded when it comes to decisions making. The great thing about 9’s, however, is their interconnectedness of the world.

See, the reason why 9’s may seem uninterested in explicitly sharing their thoughts and emotions with the world is because they choose to operate out of peace and harmony. It’s not that most 9’s proactively avoid conflict for the sake of it, but that they view debate as unnecessary. They would rather choose to love those around them rather than potentially cause a threat to the relationships that they hold so close. This personality type is willing to sacrifice its own needs and desires to help others attain their own.

I think we can all learn something from 9’s as they value the simple things in life. We don’t always have to having the hard conversations. 9’s are able to see the joy in the mundane because they feel like life’s just more beautiful that way. Though, it is important to validate your own desires. But sometimes we just need to accept our differences and love each other anyway. 9’s have a lot to offer when it comes to living a peaceful and quiet life.

All About Type 1’s

One of the biggest misconceptions about 1’s of the Enneagram is that all they care about is their perfect image. I mean, the identity of 1’s are typically labeled as The Perfectionist. But in reality, we all could learn a thing or two from the 1’s in our lives. This personality type believes in that balance is the key to strong relationships.

I hear all of the time that 1’s are incapable of relaxation and tranquility because they are always so uptight. People often view this number with the idea that 1’s are constantly judging you and always trying to find something wrong to try and fix. But, as any personality type, 1’s have some pretty great qualities about them that we all can learn from.

What We Can Learn From 1’s

Typically speaking, 1’s don’t mean to be so nit-picky when it comes to decision making. Essentially, they feel most joyful when things are more balanced in their lives, whether it be at at the workplace or in the comfort of their own home. 1’s love for things to be neat and organized because they are able to relax knowing that everything is in its place. Do you know someone who can only sit still once their house looks spotless? Most 1’s don’t try to find the bad in things, they just try to use their abilities to make things a little better. The great thing about 1’s is that they are able take responsibility for their actions even when things don’t always go the way they think they should.

The reason why 1’s may seem controlling in their relationships is because they like to have a sense of stability in their environments. Of course 1’s enjoy tidy spaces but what they truly desire is for the people around them to give their best efforts and to always be improving themselves. This personality type is also willing to see faults in themselves and strive to be better than before.

I think we can all learn something from 1’s as they value high standards for themselves, as well as those around them. Though we ought to remember that nobody is capable of being perfect in all that they do, we should remember to always show up for ourselves. 1’s have this great way of recognizing that even when we are comfortable, there is always room for more improvement.

Where Do We Go From Here?

If this is your first time discovering the Enneagram, we want to congratulate you as well as encourage you to keep reading and studying all that you can. The Enneagram has been such a valuable tool for us and has honestly changed the way we view the world. After truly understanding the Enneagram, we believe that everyone can benefit from understanding themselves, as well as the people in their lives. After reading how we can better understand the gut triad in the Enneagram, it is equally important to better understand all of its parts. The gut triad is only a start in self-discovery.

You may be asking, “all of this information is great about the gut triad of the Enneagram, but I don’t think I relate to any of these numbers. Where do I go from here?” and that is a valid question. The biggest thing that we realize is that God is so vast and complex in the way He created us. Being able to understand even a glimpse of His divine creation through the Enneagram creates room for maturity and growth. The Enneagram isn’t a one and done thing, just like learning who Christ is in our lives. This is not to discourage you but in fact encourage you to keep searching. Keep asking questions, keep learning, and most of all, keep loving.


After reading this, I hope you are able to better understand the gut triad in the Enneagram. If you have any questions or thoughts on the Enneagram, we would love to connect with you.

If you are new to the Enneagram, this is a great tool in understanding each personality typology. Be sure and snag this book if you want to get a glimpse of God’s unique love for each individual person. Throughout our Enneagram series, we reference The Road Back to You by Ian Cron and Suzanne Stabile. After reading this book, not only were we able to better understand the gut triad in the Enneagram, we were also able to understand the heart triad and the head triad as well. This book was our first in depth understanding of the Enneagram as it was a strong recommendation from many of our friends. We hope that you are able to get as much out of it as we do.

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