Source: Typewatch Enneagram Blog
Type Nine(Instinctive Triad)
Nines are the most patient and tolerant types in the enneagram. They have an innate belief that other people are similar to them underneath in a way they can't explain that makes them anything but megalomanic. They are truly accepting of peoples' faults and are biased to give others the benefit of the doubt. They are good listeners and one can talk to them about almost anything. They are able to see where others are coming from and can genuinely sympathize with what it feels like to not be listened to. They can make people feel good about even the deepest gloom.
They are easygoing and low-maintenance. They enjoy relaxing and letting their minds wander. They like immersing themselves in their hobbies and are often drawn to the outdoors. They don't impose their preferences and aren't sticklers over little things. They don't need for things to be spelled out. They are good-natured and unflappable. They have the ability to stay hopeful as well as level-headed and calm during a real crisis. Whether they are anxious, frustrated, angry, excited, or enthused, they show less than most people and appear stable no matter what.
They see being united and coming together in a positive light. They believe in "flow", whether it's going with the flow, idealizing a reality or philosophy that has flow, synchronizing themselves with the ebbs and flows of life, or being attracted to what naturally flows. They have a knack for waiting for the right time when things to come to them instead of them forcing the action. They have just enough of a positive outlook to favor letting things work out on their own but are anything but full of themselves. They have a good balance between being competitive and someone to simply hang with. All in all nines tend to be likeable.
As gut types nines are very "present" in their bodies in a naturally grounded and inert way. From being in the center of the gut triad they are saturated with enough earthy energy to make staying in their comfort zone their main priority, to the point where they block out the harshness and complications of life, and whatever doesn't "jive" with them in general. They want as much as possible for things to go smoothly and resist what bothers them. Their autonomy is important to them and a lot of things that make life more complicated aren't worth the trouble. With their instinctive energy trapped inside them they tend to stick with what's familiar, sometimes to the point of inertia and complacency. They go with the flow and are reluctant to assert their preferences outside of their comfort zone. They like feeling invited and feeding off others' energy but not to the point of no longer being able to slip in and out seamlessly. They lack strong personal boundaries in that they rarely tell people to go away so they don't want to risk a level of involvement that could lead to unwanted obligations. When they don't take the initiative to make themselves heard it often leads to a self-fulfilling prophecy of others ignoring them. They hold back their frustrations although they may not realize how much they do this.
On a much deeper level the underlying current of "anger" in gut types is traced to the eternal frustration of not being able to see themselves well due to being overly present in their bodies, similar to the frustration of groping in the dark. Inner needs like cultivating an identity have trouble being met with an unconscious sense of self, which in conjunction with being "held back" by their inertness makes it hard to get out from inside of them what they really mean and how they really feel. This constant low-idle "groping in the dark" rhythmic body-consciousness from which frustration and anger springs is the primary backdrop of the "overly present in their body" gut triad, similar to anxiety and shame for the head and image triads respectively. Although nines may deny their annoyance and irritation as forms of anger, they loathe being pushed or bothered, and especially anything that even faintly smells of obligation. Like eights and ones a nine's underlying frustration is there but instead gets redirected into less visceral forms like stubbornness and digging in their heels. If they are dragged into doing something they grit their teeth and make the best of it. Nines have an easier time accessing sadness, fear, hurt, confusion, numbness, than anger itself though ironically they get mad at themselves for saying yes when they didn't mean to.
Nines being very present in their bodies comes at the expense of having a conscious sense of "self" or awareness of having a persona. This makes them seem the least "put on" and adds to their likeability. On the flip side this lack of an identity makes them prone to self-neglect and introjecting aspects of others without them realizing it. That's why nines have difficulty vocalizing what they want or how they are feeling. When they say yes to the possibility of something in general others misinterpret that as committing to a real yes. They also have difficulty saying no with enough conviction for others to get the message that it's non-negotiable, especially when they feel pushed to defend and justify the no to someone who refuses to take no for an answer. This is a source of frustration for them and only adds to why they think communicating their wants and needs isn't worth the trouble. In an external sense nines tend to believe "everything will turn out fine"..."no need to get panicky"..."there are ways to work around that and we'll find them", while on an internal level nines have lowered expectations and are less positive thinking. They tend to see a bland neutral world with many shades of grey and prefer to be positive as they find negativity draining. That is why nines are more positive outlook than pure optimists like sevens.
Nines see the waves of conflict between them and others larger and more treacherous than they really are. They can be unnerved by focused negative energy and to a lesser extent relentlessness. What others see as a spirited discussion they see as a needlessly argumentative atmosphere. They don't like it when people feel compelled to fight over stuff in raised voices rather than try to discuss and merely understand each other. They feel people interrupt them and never give them an opportunity to say something important. They settle for an illusion that if they don't invite conflict or rock the boat everything will be okay. They bury their anger and frustration and are happy that their boat is still floating even if it's just drifting out of inertia. Steering the boat through problems would require a sense of direction so they are content to let it drift along. By ignoring problems they make them worse which causes them to ignore them even more and a negative feedback loop ensues. When there's too much swept under the rug to "numb out" any longer they finally erupt. This takes others aback and reinforces to them that anger is bad. On a more subconscious level they try to neutralize their anger by seeing the good in people.
Much of a nine's issues surface in relationships where it's about two people getting what they want from each other. It's not uncommon for nines to seem apathetic and invest less of themselves in something to protect themselves emotionally in case things go bad. To others they can seem emotionally disconnected or "numbed out". In relationships they are often able to shrug off disappointments easier because they had already left internally to some degree. It's not a matter of them not being accepting enough for if anything they hold out too much hope. They feel that people ignore them as well as don't pay attention or listen to them. Once they've determined things are past the point of no return, they try to get the other person to leave by being unavailable and unappealing so that they have a guilt-free conscience. They don't think they make waves or invoke strong feelings in others. This way they confirm to themselves that they are invisible enough to slip in and out of situations without making enough waves to be responsible for whatever happens. In prematurely resigning themselves to being less visible they underestimate the effect they have on others and are surprised at how blindsided close ones can be.
Because nines are less "present" on the inside their cognition has less "form" or "definition" and therefore less of the restrictions that accompany them. This enables nines to gloss over negative scenarios just enough to think they can live a simple and easy life without disruptions, provided they don't invite conflict that could lead to estrangement from others(9w1), or make life more difficult for themselves(9w8). They especially fear being separated from loved ones(9w1), or losing loved ones permanently(9w8). Emphasizing they are distinctly separate individuals goes against their ego in not having self-importance(9w1), or in their self-importance not mattering(9w8).
With their ability to subtly gloss over what's uncomfortable to think about nines are able to drown out what disturbs their peace of mind(9w1), or their rhythm(9w8). While the seven's jumping-the-gun cognition makes them clearly see positive scenarios before the future can disprove them, the nine's more elastic cognition makes them block out what they consider disruptive. Due to having less "form" or "definition" their cognition is often more in symbols and images and other things of a less conscious nature than concrete words. They can be complacent and selectively not remember things. Any one thing can possibly lead to anything, for unlike fives there are no dead ends or other cognitive restrictions to their thinking process. They tend to explain things in stories where one thought naturally flows to another. This type of internal wiring though can make it harder to discriminate between what is essential and what isn't, and makes it more difficult to find their calling in life and set priorities. Although their ability to see many shades of grey gives them a talent for mediating others' disputes, it makes it harder to isolate what they really want in life.
In an everchanging world they are reluctant to commit on the spot as they feel a need to have something "jive" with them to tell if they really want it or not. They fear being swept up in the wrong thing and the obligations that come with it..."do I really want this or not?" Enough stress makes them hunker down and avoid everything as well as numb out. "Why bother?"..."which way to go?..."it doesn't really matter does it?"..."I don't know so I'll stay here and hope it goes away." Therefore their top priority remains to be as comfortable as possible with what's familiar, internally as well as externally. To achieve this their more amorphous cognition makes them block out what is outside of their comfort zone, particularly the harshness and complications of life.
In enneagram theory nines are instinctive(gut) center primary at the expense of their thinking and identity centers. This leads them to become more "checked out" and numb to their feelings in response to conflict or another stressor, as well as overfocus on living comfortably at the expense of critical thinking beyond their comfort zone and a developed identity. However a sense of self even if it's false helps one "get out there" and have one's self-perception and version of reality regularly tested. On a deeper level nines take pride in their invisibility as otherwise it would be too much of a blow for their invisibility to be "confirmed" by others on top of not being able to see themselves. Twisting their perceived invisibility into a strength also enables them to use it as an excuse to do whatever they have to do to stay in their comfort zone. On a deeper level they want to be stay in their comfort zone and avoid taking responsibility for their true needs and desires. A person needs to be a part of themselves before they are a part of anything though. Hence nines need to see themselves as distinctly separate to connect with greater humanity.
Nines attempt to reach a state of premature comfort and/or enlightenment. Seeing friction and a lack of fluidity in eights and ones next to them may awaken some nines to the possibility that an easy life without disruptions may lead to missing out on essential parts of the human experience like being involved. Other nines may immerse themselves in activities to feel more alive to counteract inertia. Yet other nines may be surprisingly intellectual and even indulge in introspection, though the latter is usually on their terms. Similar to sixes there can be a wide range of nines. While it's not uncommon for nines to seem like fours, fives, sixes, and sevens even, what all nines have in common is presuming that things will be okay if they stay in their comfort zone by minimizing conflict and tension as well as blocking out the harshness and complications of life, numbing out what's unpleasant, an attraction to "flow" or willingness to go with the flow, and an underdeveloped sense of identity so that they often feel "invisible".
To get healthier nines need to wean themselves off autopilot mode or away from any delusion that they can ascend to a nirvana-like state without going through the arduous process of figuring out who they are and what they really want in life. They need to accept the reality that emotional pain cannot be numbed or escaped and instead comes with simply being present. They then need to learn to put themselves out there and allow for the discomfort that comes from being more emotionally honest and engaged with others. They need to stand by their own convictions and accept the risk that they will find conflict and come up against others' opinions. To live a more honest life they have to lay it out there and accept that whatever happens happens. If others reject their right to see things the way they do they are rejecting their truth which is unacceptable. Thus conflict can finally lead to closure. Once they see that anger is conviction in their truth they can see it as a constructive force that they could and should experience in realtime. When healthy nines are able to stay focused and rational during anger and let it run its natural course. They can then utilize their strength at seeing the merits of others' views without losing themselves in the process. With new self-assertion victories their sense of identity is developed enough to enable them to escape inertia instead of pain. They can become more "alive" and begin the positive feedback loop of engaging life more fully, releasing the logjam of instinctive energy that's trapped inside them.
The instinctive triad seems to "just know" compared to the relatively ungrounded cognition of other types so being in the center nines present an interesting paradox. They are more in touch with less conscious processes and the collective unconscious, yet have a tendency to be disengaged and subtly gloss over things that go against their preferred way of seeing reality. They have a knack for going with the flow and waiting for things to develop instead of forcing the action, but are also more prone to seeing what they want to see and living in their own bubble. Being in the center of the instinctive triad they are saturated with enough of the less conscious gut energy(not to be confused with not being intellectual) that it can be difficult to overcome their inertia and "get up and go". It's similar to sixes who "what if" so much they fake themselves out and threes who try too hard to hit the right notes with people.
9w8 is about calmness(nine) from a position of strength(eight). They choose to be calm as opposed to feeling they have to maintain being calm to avoid conflict or estrangement like a 9w1. They don't invite conflict but don't shy away from it either as they nip conflict in the bud as quickly as possible. They are the most "chill" of the instinctive triaders. They have the best balance in their personal boundaries as they are halfway in between being a doormat and dominating others. This is why they are generally the most likeable of all subtypes.
9w8 is called the "comfort-seeker" and wants to make life easier for themselves. They are firmly grounded in their bodies with an emphasis on being physically comfortable. Hardly anything bothers them. They aren't nearly as hard on themselves as 9w1s. They are easygoing but can be direct with others if forced out of their comfort zone as they are much more assertive than their 9w1 siblings. While they have a bias towards letting things work out on their own they have no problem stepping in and settling things.
9w8s have an ego in being grounded in reality. They pride themselves in being simple regular people. They take pleasure in noticing when there isn't any point to discussing something, often to the extent of exhibiting a "who cares" apathy. Asserting their self-importance certainly falls in that category. While they are realistic about themselves they have a tendency to be underestimated by others. Like eights they play down and trivialize what's not worth dwelling on as "no big deal". Not getting what they want is also declared "no big deal" and therefore not that important. They tend to be attracted to the outdoors and other physical activities. They mainly fear permanently losing loved ones.
9w8s are more genial and practical. They are significantly less withdrawn than 9w1s. Although they are less intuitive than 9w1s, they have a natural sense of rhythm for the ebb and flow of things around them. They have an ability to make anyone like them even when they are being irreverent and mischievous. They have an "it's all good" attitude as nothing appears to bother them. In response to a prank they might go "nice one" whereas a 9w1 would initially seem dazed and taken aback before saying it's alright. 9w8s have an overt(eight) haze(nine) in comparison to the more repressed(one) haze(nine) of 9w1s. Like all 9s they have trouble expressing anger directly and become less focused when they do. Their 8 wing though makes them more able to blow off steam by expressing anger physically at least, like throwing stuff in frustration.
9w1 is about keeping their inner peace(nine) intact(one). They avoid conflict externally and the reality of that conflict internally. They see conflict as an endless web of which any path could lead to estrangement so they hold their anger inside. They suppress their rough edges and conceal disagreeableness to seem accommodating. They have trouble saying no gracefully: "what do you mean?"..."answer to what?"..."I'm flattered you asked but I'll have to think about that as I have something else I gotta do"..."me participating would likely make no difference so you'd be better off asking someone else". They may also feel emotionally unsafe wanting something that's counter to the wants of the people around them. They'll either be wishy-washy and try to change the subject or find a way to go along while feeling they were sucked in. Basically they trade their comfort for others' comfort and hope and assume that by ignoring conflict they will maintain their emotional tranquility. To a 9w1 hope and assume are often close enough to be interchangeable. If they are in a safe and comfortable environment they can better explore disagreement.
9w1s are sensitive and self-effacing as well as gentle and loving. While they have issues with expressing anger they can also feel crippled with anxiety. They suppress or ignore their wants due to fear. They "cocoon" under stress and their "positive outlook" is a defense against a deep-seated belief of an inability to have an influence or impact. The delayed anger responses from 9w1s result from an excessive buildup of intense long-term anxiety that never got dealt with. They are much harder on themselves than 9w8s. They are very sensitive to criticism because they take it as a judgement on them as people. This is why praise can have such a positive effect on them. The key is to try to relieve their anxiety directly and then anger issues will resolve themselves.
9w1s have an "ego in having no ego", as opposed to the 9w8 ego in being able to be apathetic to what's pointless. They can be unusually intuitive and cerebral as well as creative and fantastical. They have a knack for synthesizing various theories and viewpoints. Sometimes they can seem like 4s and 5s except they idealize "flow" and don't take things to the same extremes. It's tough to narrow down the possibilities and discriminate the way they see everything as interconnected. They feel ambivalent and out of touch with what their instincts tell them. They repress and ignore negative urges in themselves but get frustrated with those who disturb the peace. In response to being disturbed themselves they might initially be taken aback or dazed and then say everything is okay.
9w1s are high-minded types who idealize peace, harmony, healing, and union with others. They mainly fear being separated from loved ones and on some level they feel like they don't matter as a distinctly separate person. "United we stand divided we fall" resonates with them because on a deeper level separation is equivalent to annihilation. They dream about formlessness as the perfect reality, where one is freed from struggles of the ego and anything else that detracts from fluidity. They feel drawn to being connected with the vastness and beauty of nature and are attracted to things like large bodies of water and celestial entities in the sky. The Way of the Tao is very 9w1, as are other eastern philosophies that aspire to a formless and egoless nirvana. "The answer will come to you in time my son" wise man archetype is also very 9w1. In such a reality unnecessary details, pain, and anxiety are either drowned out or work themselves out on their own.
9 vs 1: Nines aren't aggressive like ones are. They lack the one's constant need for self-improvement and complex around perfectionism.
9 vs 2: Nines don't have the two's controlling tendencies nor do nines have the two's ego strength.
9 vs 3: Nines have an inhibition against taking the initiative to make themselves heard unlike threes. Threes focus on meeting expectations and personal goals while nines care about avoiding obligations. "Seize the day!" doesn't resonate with nines like threes.
9 vs 4: Nines don't use separation from others to exalt themselves like fours do. Fours like to bring attention to themselves unlike nines. Fours unlike nines are comfortable taking the initiative to make themselves heard.
9 vs 5: Nines are drawn to comforting thoughts as opposed to fives who are mentally intense, strong-minded, and argumentative, and drawn to disturbing thoughts. Fives like to argue for sport while nines don't want to bother with winning an argument since it means getting angry which feels unpleasant. Fives unlike nines put a premium on what they say being well thought-out. Nines have a bias to simplify whereas fives have a bias to complexify. Nines have an elastic cognition while fives are constrained by their internal logic. Nine thinking is involved with generalities whereas five thinking is highly concentrated, penetrating, and almost microscopic in its focus. Nines are more "present" physically. Nines see being united and coming together in a positive light.
9 vs 6: Nines see sixes are too wound up and need to chill out while sixes see nines as asleep. Nines have much more elastic cognition. Effective communication isn't as important to nines as it is to sixes who need things to be spelled out. Nines are comfortable letting things happen on their own while sixes notice what can go wrong. Sixes being reactive types find it much harder to shield their annoyance from others. When nines feel smaller than their internal resources to deal with a situation, they get to a "what's the point anymore?"paralysis. Sixes lack the presumption of nines.
9 vs 7: Nines find it much easier to adjust their wants with what they are likely to get. Sevens don't feel invisible at all and easily take the initiative to make themselves heard. Unlike sevens, nines hold back their cockiness until they feel comfortable.
9 vs 8: Nines don't invite conflict like eights do. Eights have a much easier time expressing anger and don't feel invisible at all.