Beyond Your Triggers & Blind Spots
Written by Tania Burgess
Life can be challenging, and when you get triggered, your defensive mechanisms kick in, which can lead to conflict and tension.
It’s in our DNA to evolve and that includes developing our emotional intelligence, EQ, but it’s easy to get stuck in the habituated tendencies of our personality, reacting when the world doesn’t agree with who we think we are and what we see as important.
In a rapidly changing world, the greatest skill you can develop is the ability to know yourself – especially your triggers, defence mechanisms and blind spots. Not unlike the blind spot, you can’t see when driving a car, it's crucial to be aware of how you create emotional and mental blind spots in your personal and professional life.
An enneagram is a tool that maps the world view of 9 personality types. Offering insight into your motivations and vulnerabilities, it also gives insight into how you ignore, rejects & deny aspects of yourself because they don’t fit your idealised self-image. This idealised self-image is also known as the ego.
When confronted by our blind spots, the ego becomes triggered, and our defence mechanisms kick in to protect this sense of what we take ourselves to be.
You can find out more about the motivations of the 9 types in the article What Fires You Up to Achieve but to discover your and others' Idealised sense of self, blind spots and triggers for each of the 9 types, read on.
1. The Reformer/Perfectionist
Is The Rational & Idealistic Type
Their idealised self-image: I am good, I am right, and I strive to be perfect.
Their blind spots: They can be critical & impatient, even when they are trying to be constructive. Overstepping other people’s boundaries. They can become self-righteous and stubborn, struggling to accept another person’s perspective.
What triggers them: Being criticised, other people’s lack of follow-through, timeliness and uncollaborative changing of plans.
2. The Helper
Is The Caring, Generous, People-Pleaser.
Their idealised self-image: I am giving. I am helpful and I am generous.
Their blind spots: They can overfocus on others and tune out to their own needs. Their unsolicited advice and help may disempower and offend others, despite their good intentions.
What triggers them: Being excluded, taken for granted, and not being heard.
3. The Competitive Achiever
Is A Success-Oriented, Driven, & Image-Conscious Type.
Their idealised self-image: I must succeed, avoid failure and I am what I do.
Their blind spots: They can overidentify with their image, losing touch with who they really are, which can come across as insincere and lacking self-awareness. Their goal orientation may lead to others seeing them as impatient, rushed and dismissive.
What triggers them: Being set up to fail. Not looking good professionally. Not being given credit for their work. Being blamed for others’ poor work.
4. The Individual Creative
Is Sensitive & In Tune With Their Inner World, Making Them Emotionally Expressive & Sometimes Intense & Dramatic.
Their idealised self-image: I must be true to myself and make a difference.
Their blind spots: They want meaningful relationships, but their need to be different and special creates a push-pull which can cause some people to pull away. This can be magnified by their comfort with deep & heavy emotions, which some find self-absorbed and uncomfortable.
What triggers them: Being ignored or slighted. Being asked to do something against their values. Not receiving credit for their work. Envy.
5. The Investigator
Is The Nerdy, Cerebral Type: Perceptive, Innovative, & Isolated.
Their idealised self-image: I must be self-sufficient. I must depend on others too much. I understand and make sense of my world.
Their blind spots: Overly in their head and able to easily detach from their feelings, they can come across as lacking warmth. They can be arrogant and patronising when sharing information. Commitment is difficult and solitude is not as painful, but they can feel torn between being alone and wanting contact.
What triggers them: Being overwhelmed or surprised. Private, dishonest, or false information is being shared. Being prompted for an instant emotional response.
6. The Loyal Sceptic
Is, Security-Oriented, Engaging, Responsible, & Suspicious
Their idealised self-image: I must protect myself, be careful, & cautious about who I trust and be loyal to those I can trust.
Their blind spots: Overly focused on how things can go wrong, they miss what is going well. Despite valuing loyalty and trust, they tend to behave in ways that make it difficult for others to trust them. Always focusing on obstacles and fears, they often project onto others without acknowledging their own emotions and anxieties fully.
What triggers them: Another person’s lack of genuineness. Another’s lack of commitment. Abusive use of authority.
7. The Enthusiastic Visionary
Is Busy, Fun-loving, Spontaneous, & Easily Distracted
Their idealised self-image: I deserve what I want. I must move forward to what’s next.
Their blind spots: Quick to learn and synthesise new information, they can become an instant expert, missing the depth of capability that comes with mastery. Their quick intuitive mind may lead them to assume what others are going to say or do without listening to what is actually being said.
What triggers them: Being confined, restricted, and asked to do boring tasks. Being unjustly criticised, dismissed and not taken seriously.
8. The Challenger
Is Powerful, Self-Confident, Decisive, & Not Afraid Of Confrontation
Their idealised self-image: I must be in control. I must be strong. I must not be controlled.
Their blind spots: Her energy can be stronger than they realise, leading them to appear intimidating. Their needs for conclusions and decisive action may leave other people feeling unprepared and underappreciated. Their double standard for control, resisting rules and attempts to be controlled vs. feeling entitled to take control and insist others follow their rules.
What triggers them: Being controlled or blindsided. Others are not being direct. Injustice. Incompetence.
9. The Peacekeeper
Is Easy-Going, Receptive, Trusting, & Complacent.
Their idealised self-image: I must keep the peace. I am OK if those around me are OK.
Their blind spots: She avoids being controversial and has difficulty saying no. Needing to ensure everyone is heard, she presents multiple viewpoints which may undermine her credibility and influence when listeners lose interest. She dislikes being controlled but her resistance to rocking the boat can lead to passive-aggressive behaviour when she avoids difficult conversations in which to give feedback.
What triggers them: Too many demands. Rudeness in others. Not feeling connected. Feeling taken advantage of.
Recognising the blind spots you create through your idealised sense of self, allows you to hold your self-image lightly. When you become triggered, you have the choice to defend this fabricated sense of self, or ego, or recognise it and soften it into a mindful state of curiosity and presence. Asking yourself the question, what is really going on here? and what can I do differently? will raise your EQ and make life better for you and everyone involved.
There is lots of information on the web and ultimately you are the only one that can work on your triggers, but working with a professional can help the process in a safe and non-judgmental environment.
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