Heart Types of the Enneagram

Numbers 2, 3 and 4 are the heart types of the Enneagram, although you’ll also find them called the emotion triad, feeling triad or even the shame or image triad. Issues of self-worth and shame are central to their experience. They are pictured on the right-hand side of the Enneagram symbol.

heart triad enneagram symbol

Overview of the Heart Triad types

Twos feel what others feel, and derive their sense of self-worth from being of service. They are pretty good at ignoring their own feelings.

Threes repress their feelings in order to be successful in the world. Since they’ve lost touch with their heart, they tend to believe whatever image they’ve created is actually who they are.

Fours feel their feelings to excess, and can end up feeling deficient, lacking and envious, but also superior and unique for their depth of sensitivity.

At the deepest level, your heart qualities are the source of your identity. When your heart opens, you know who you are, and that “who you are” has nothing to do with what people think of you and nothing to do with your past history. You have a particular quality, a flavor, something that is unique and intimately you. It is through the heart that we recognize and appreciate our true nature.

The Wisdom of the Enneagram, by Don Richard Russo and Russ Hudson

How to spot a Heart Type

There is definitely an Earth Mother/goddess type that embodies the heart type, but not all curvy endomorphs are heart types, and not all heart types are curvy. All Enneagram types come in all shapes and sizes.

heart types of the enneagram

Heart types don’t share a physical type, then, but their attention does seem to center around relationships. Some need to feel needed by the people who are important in their lives (2), some need to feel respect or approval for their accomplishments (3) and others want to be seen as unique in and of themselves (4).

Each type looks different depending on what level of health they are functioning at. Healthy people of all Enneagram types share, well, health. But at average and unhealthy levels, the stereotypical patterns and fixations emerge. Learn more about the levels of health at the Enneagram Institute and in the brief summary of names of the Heart Types below.

protea blossom
Healthy, open hearts radiate beauty, just like this protea (aka sugarbush).

Fixations of the Heart Types of the Enneagram

2: Flattery, dependency, manipulation – since they are not consciously aware of their own needs, Twos use indirect methods to get those needs met.

3: Vanity, deceit – Threes become identified with a false image of self. It doesn’t mean they are intentionally trying to deceive people – it is more that they believe their own story and external measures of “success” more than their true, intrinsic worth.

4: Melancholy, envy – Fours are very aware of their emotions. Emotions always change, so Fours end up feeling like they don’t have a stable sense of self the way other people appear to have. Bittersweet longing for more connection and a sad acceptance of being flawed make it difficult to operate in the world.

… and how to fix those fixations with their corresponding virtues:

2: Humility, realizing that they, too, need things from other people – and that there is no shame in having needs. This puts them on the same level as others, rather than as the helper looking down on the poor suffering ones.

3: Honesty, admitting their own feelings and developing a willingness to share their authentic selves – not just the admirable parts. Again, this might mean stepping down off their pedestals.

4: Equanimity, developing a more even keeled relationship with their intense emotions so that they aren’t ruled by them. This represents a step up out of pity and into shared humanity with all people, since we are all flawed.

When the heart types are able to respond to both their own feelings and those of others with openness and acceptance, many of their struggles disappear. It is a challenge for Twos, Threes, and Fours to not worry about what others think of them – but it is by letting go of this fixation that their inner guidance is able to shine the way.

Names for Enneagram Heart Types

Names can be misleading, so here I’m including two of the most commonly used titles for each type, plus Riso & Hudson’s titles for each heart type at their healthiest, average state, and most unhealthy. I believe addressing the full spectrum of possibility within each type is important for the Enneagram to be useful. Otherwise, runs the risk of being just another title we congratulate or denigrate ourselves with.

2 The Helper or Caregiver: Disinterested Altruist, Effusive Friend, Psychosomatic Victim

3 The Performer or Achiever: Authentic Person, Competitive Status-Seeker, Vindictive Psychopath

4 The Artist or Individualist: Inspired Creator, Imaginative Aesthete, Self-Destructive Person

How do you find out if you are a heart type?

Read, talk, learn. Explore both the issues you identify with easily and those that seem completely foreign to you. We all have heads, hearts and bodies and do best when we incorporate the strengths inherent in each type of intelligence, even if our preference is the heart.