Which Way is Up, and Which Way is Down?

The Path Forward, and Backward

Once we know our "home base Enneagram type," a wealth of incredibly useful dynamism opens up for us, including our path of development into greater psychological health, and our path of disintegration into unhealthy psychological levels. 

The Enneagram outlines our path of development towards greater psychological health and spiritual depth (the way up). This is articulated through each type's point of integration, virtue and more. (I will share more on the Enneagram and Development in blogs to follow). 

The Enneagram also points out how each type falls down into psychological ill health, through elements such as one's point of dis-integration, one's vice, etc. (More on this later as well).

In The Wisdom of the Enneagram, Don Riso and Russ Hudson share what they call the Leaden Rule, which is the opposite of the more famous Golden Rule ("Do unto others as you would have them do unto you"). Their Leaden Rule states, "Do unto others what you most fear having done unto you."

Yikes? Who wants to do this?

When following the Leaden Rule, we aggressively engage our self-defeating behaviors in an effort to get our needs met. In an effort to get what we most want (Basic Desire) we impose what we most fear (Basic Fear) onto others. This doesn't happen in a one-size-fits-all way... each type has it's own unique way of putting someone down a notch in order to lift themselves up.

Here is the LEADEN RULE for each Type:

  • Enneagram Type 1 Reformer:  Fearing that they may be evil, corrupt, or defective, Ones point out evil, corruption, and defectiveness in others. 
  • Enneagram Type 2 Helper: Fearing that they are unwanted and unloved, Two's make others feel unworthy of their love, generosity, or attention. 
  • Enneagram Type 3 Achiever: Fearing that they are worthless and without value, Threes make others feel valueless by treating them arrogantly or with contempt.
  • Enneagram Type 4 Individualist: Fearing that they do not have an identity or any personal significance of their own, Fours treat people disdainfully , as if others were "nobodies" and had no value or significance. 
  • Enneagram Type 5 Investigator: Fearing that they are helpless, incapable, and incompetent, Fives make others feel helpless, incompetent, stupid, and incapable. 
  • Enneagram Type 6 Loyalist: Fearing that they are without support or guidance, Sixes undermine the support systems of others, trying to isolate them. 
  • Enneagram Type 7 Enthusiast: Fearing that they are trapped in pain and deprivation, Sevens cause pain and make others feel deprived. 
  •  Enneagram Type 8 Challenger: Fearing that they will be harmed or controlled by others, Eights make others fear that they will be harmed or controlled by their belligerent and intimidating threats. 
  • Enneagram Type 9 Mediator: Fearing that they will suffer loss of connection with others, Nines make others feel that they have lost connection with the Nine by "tuning out" people in various ways. 


Fortunately, there is a way out. We can avoid imposing the Leaden Rule on others if we notice and heed our Red Flag fears. These fears may shock us, our loved ones and our clients into awareness, and keep us/them from descending into truly unhealthy behaviors. 

Here are the RED FLAG FEARS for each type: 

  • Enneagram Type 1 Reformer: that their ideals are actually wrong and counterproductive.
  • Enneagram Type 2 Helper: That they are driving friends and loved ones away.
  • Enneagram Type 3 Achiever: That they are failing, that their claims are empty and fraudulent.
  • Enneagram Type 4 Individualist: That they re ruining their live and wasting their opportunities.
  • Enneagram Type 5 Investigator: That they are never going to find a place in the world or with people.
  • Enneagram Type 6 Loyalist: That their own actions have harmed their security.
  • Enneagram Type 7 Enthusiast: That their activities are bringing them pain and unhappiness. 
  • Enneagram Type 8 Challenger: That others are turning against them and will retaliate. 
  • Enneagram Type 9 Mediator: That they will be forced by reality to deal with their problems. 

The Enneagram can show us the heaven we hope to create (our path of development) as well as the hell we want to avoid (the Leaden Rule). Paying attention to the Red Flag fears of yourself, your friends/family and your clients can help keep everyone out of "hell" and get everyone back to creating the "heaven" we so deeply desire.


1. Can you remember a time when you, a friend/family member or a client followed the Leaden Rule for your Enneagram type? What happened? What actions did you/they take? How did it work out? 

2. Can you remember a time you a friend/family member or a client considered following their Leaden Rule but were able to pay attention to their Red Flag and thus avoided following their Leaden Rule? What happened? How did that work out? 

3. What can you do in the future to stay aware (or help others in your life stay aware) of the Red Flag for your/their Enneagram type for the sake of avoiding following the Leaden Rule? 


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