Insights from Certified KI Facilitator, Meredith Markow into using the Enneagram within the context of the Kiloby Inquiries Methods.

The word Enneagram comes from the Greek words ennea meaning “nine”, and gramma, meaning “written”. It is an ancient, sacred geometric figure, which represents nine personality types and their complex interweaving. The Enneagram is a paradigm of human personality and inner development. It is far more than a theoretical system, however. It serves as a practical model of knowledge to help us know ourselves and improve our relationships.

This ‘road map’ can be very useful in helping us to identify our basic fears, as well as core desires, that motivate our behaviors.  These underlying fears and desires can keep us from growing in certain areas. One of the key benefits in using The Enneagram is in identifying these underlying individual core fears, desires and motivations. By fully exploring them, we can be freed from them. The result is often greater peace of mind and success, as well as the discovery of our authentic Self- freed from the fetters of personality.

The Enneagram & Deficiency Stories

The Enneagram is a brilliant map that describes the nine different personality or ego types. Since each of the nine Types is formed in response to a particular core story of deficiency, using the Enneagram can be essential in helping clients to identify the Basic Fear and Desire that lives as a “Deficiency Story”. Once we identify the story, then we can begin to deconstruct it. Like a scab that forms to protect a wound, so too, do our personality traits form to protect or compensate for a core story of deficiency. When it comes to the Kiloby Inquiries, the Enneagram can be used to identify or name a person’s core story of deficiency. Using the Enneagram can assist the facilitator enormously to identify the deficiency story that fuels each type as well as the primary feeling it most wants to avoid.

The Enneagram & Kiloby Inquiries

As a KI Facilitator, I use the Enneagram extensively when I work with clients. Kiloby Inquiries methods and the wisdom of the Enneagram work beautifully in concert with one another.

Very often when we work with the Enneagram, the first thing that we want to do is to hone in on our “Type”. This is natural, as we want to see where our home base is, and from there explore the many layers of discovery offered by the Enneagram. We may take an Enneagram test or search through a list of Type descriptions to find ourselves. For some, it is easy to identify one’s Type, but for others, this can be circuitous and frustrating.

I personally discourage clients from exploring the Enneagram first by trying to find their “Type”. Rather, I begin the journey looking into the “Centers of Intelligence” and “The Core Fears and Desires” of the Types. I find this not only gentler, but also ultimately more effective in eventually finding your way to “Type”.

Centers of Intelligence

The Enneagram Type Triads

One of the most effective ways to initially apply the tools of the Enneagram to one’s Inquiry journey is to identify which Center of Intelligence we may reside in.  Each Center of Intelligence contains a core emotion that can be out of balance. Very often in my own Inquiry work with clients, there is some aspect of that core emotion at the root of what is asking to be explored and untethered. This is often true no matter the specifics of the issue.

Centers of Intelligence are the classical centers of emotions, thinking and instincts. Consequently, they have to do with how we primarily relate to the world.  An imbalance in one of those capacities often indicates the affected center. This may show up as an overexpression, denial or repression. People are driven by an imbalance in one of these centers, and often there are attempts to compensate for this imbalance. Hence, understanding imbalance helps us to move toward personal growth.

Instinctive Triad

For example, in the Instinctive Triad (Types 8, 9, 1) these Types may have a tendency to control their environment. They can have problems with anger, repression or aggression.

This can be to maintain control or dominance, and they can repress their soft side. They may want to avoid conflict, and can repress their anger. They might control by ignoring, or they resist their inner environment and repress their anger, because it shows a lack of control. Order and consistency are important to Types in the Instinctive Triad.

The driving emotion is Anger. They seek autonomy. The primary expression is: “Do not interfere with my boundaries.”

Feeling Triad

In the Feeling Triad (Types 2,3,4) there is a focus on creating identity. Types in this Center can lose touch with their feelings in order to be what others want them to be. Or alternatively, they may over emphasize their feelings to stand out or be different. Incidentally, they relate with shame when their identity is questioned.

In fact, the driving emotion is Shame. They maintain their image. And their primary expression is: “See and love me as I am and as I want to be seen.”

Thinking Triad

In the Thinking Triad individuals may have trouble “doing” because of a preoccupation with thinking. They may have challenges with fear, anxiety and insecurity. The world can be overwhelming or threatening. They can doubt their own intuitions or their own thinking. They form alliances for security. As a result, some will overdo or overextend themselves to avoid inner pain and anxiety.

The driving emotion is Fear. They seek guidance and security. The primary expression is: “What can I trust?”

When we start with the Centers, we get a ‘bird’s eye view’ of core emotions and identification. One can discover emotions, messages and issues that are tightly interwoven as a starting point. From there, we can clarify what can be worked with during a session.

Basic Fears and Desires

There is another “on-ramp” to using the Enneagram and the KIs. Consider the list of Core Fears and Desires as expressed by each Type. As you read through the list below, take note of where your “triggers” are. Consider body sensations, words that may jump out at you, as well as images that may arise. This can be a clue for you. Regardless of what your “Type” is, consider which of these core fears and desires are creating resistance or serving as motivations for your behaviors.

What is the benefit of clarifying a Core Fear or Desire that is at the root of one’s deficiency story? It can radically change the way that we navigate our inquiry process. First, we name the core emotions, messages and fears. Then, we excavate the layers of these thoughts, images and sensations. We look at them each separately- not with judgment or analysis, but rather with innocent curiosity and careful, direct observation. This process is very healing for anyone hoping to experience relief. This can include relief from a negative self- image, interpersonal conflict, fears and anxiety, stress, compulsive behaviors, thoughts and addictions. Basically anything that causes us distress or inhibits us from living life fully can be inquired into.

Wrap Up

Ultimately, the Enneagram is a tool that we can use with the KIs that allows us to get a closer look at the source of what makes us feel separate from life on a moment-by-moment basis. This can lead us to living a life of greater contentment. When we are released from our deficiency stories, we come to realize the truth about ourselves.

We are whole and complete, and gloriously human.

About Meredith Markow

Meredith, and her teaching colleague and storyteller, David Sewell McCann, offer courses to children and adults working creatively with the power of Story at Story Steps Education. In the past 30 years as a Waldorf Teacher and Educational Consultant, Meredith has been working in partnership with parents, teachers, educational support professionals and therapists to serve the children in her care.

Education and Credentials

  • University of Michigan, B.A. with a focus on child development and child psychology, 1984
  • M.A. Ed, Washington University, 1987
  • Lehrerausbildung (Teacher Training), Nuremberg, Germany, Waldorf Teaching Certificate, 1989
  • The Enneagram Institute, formal teaching certification, 2014
  • Living Inquiries Facilitator, 2013
  • Kiloby Inquiries Facilitator, 2020

Meredith’s work in the classroom and with individuals and groups is designed to help people of all ages to drop self-limiting beliefs and to live a more joyful and compassionate life.

You can reach Meredith at


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