Feel Better

Instinct Stacking and Scoring

According to the Enneagram model of personality, each archetype is “ruled” or steered (mostly unconsciously) by one of three human instincts: the Self-Preservation instinct, the Sexual (Focusing/Targeting/Merging) instinct, as well as the Social Instinct.

These instincts, part of our human-animal evolutionary legacy, are present within our ego consciousness in different ratios, but generally speaking we function with one instinct taking the lion’s share of our time and energies. This instinct is also the one that can cause most problems for us as we often don’t even question its dominance in our egoic functioning. It can also, paradoxically, give us the greatest amount of joy and well-being when the instinct’s demands or needs are fulfilled or met.

So for example, for me as an Sx-type Four, I am happiest when having a super-meaningful, deep, and authentic conversation with someone else (so lucky to be able to do this every day as a therapist!) or engaged in some type of creative expression or study which also engages with my dominant instinct.

Our secondary instinct is the stack is the one that asserts itself in a more functional way. It doesn’t rule us (for good or bad) as much as our dominant instinct, but just hums along in the background, helping us to live our lives in harmonious and happy ways.

Our least manifested instinct (sometimes called our “blind” instinct) is the one we give much less energy to -again, not consciously, these are instinctive drives- which sometimes still serves us, but can also make our lives more tricky, as ideally, a life well-lived is one in which we can (consciously) balance and integrate all three of our instincts, as we also try to balance and integrate all three of our Intelligence Operating Systems (head, heart, gut) in a bid to get the best out of our selves and others.

There are a couple of ways you can use the scoring system below. Primarily just to reflect on these three instincts and how they move through you and drive you (sometimes to drink and despair, other times not), but also, if you like to work out how your instincts stack up, which will also give you more insight into your ego-functioning and personality style/subtype.


3 points for something you put a lot of time and energy into
2 points for something you do now and then
1 point for something that needs more attention

Zone 1: Self care and wellbeing 

_____Relaxation (time in solitude, walk in nature, meditation, yoga, etc.)
_____Adequate Stimulation (reading, listening to music, healthy sex life, watching documentaries, etc.)

Zone 2: Maintenance and resources 

_____Time management (self-management, time to self, time with others, being on time, etc.)
_____Practical application and skills (being able to address practical needs, fix things, manage life, etc.)
_____Work habits/Persistence (the ability to follow through, finish tasks, discipline, habits around
practical ventures, ways you are handy, etc.)
_____Energy management (how we use our energy, deal with stress, balance silence with activity, etc.)

Zone 3: Domesticity and home 

_____Structure supports life/Base of operations (home management, home as a solid launchpad)
_____Beauty and Holding (comfortable and inviting living/work space, feeling held by your home, etc.)
_____Re-charging/Restoration (home as a place to restore)

TOTAL _____



1 point for when you’re not sure or don’t engage in this area.
2 points for when you do this sometimes.
3 points for when you engage a lot and maybe even too much in this area.

Zone 1: Attraction (and Attracting) 

_____Broadcasting and Charisma
_____Display/Doing things to get noticed
_____Being Attracted/Following energy
_____Choosing/ Fitness

Zone 2: Exploration and Edge

_____Activation/Arousal/Getting Turned On (by sb/sthing)
_____Taking risks/adventure
_____Getting out of habits/leaving your comfort zone
_____Stimulation/new experience
_____Following/honouring impulses and inspirations

Zone 3: Merging

_____Focus/Intense involvement in a pursuit or a person
_____Losing boundaries and sense of self/surrender
_____Concentration vs. Distraction
_____Pouring and spending energy rather than conserving it
_____Seeking fusion/At-Oneness with someone or a certain kind of experience

TOTAL _____



3 points for something you put a great deal of time and energy into – you actually
do this a lot
2 points for something you do now and then
1 point for something that needs more attention

Zone 1: Reading People and Situations 

____Reading Facial Expressions/Body Language/Tone of Voice/Moods
____“Reading Between the Lines”
____Interest in others/Attunement/“Tuning in”
____Adapting to “Clues”/Adjusting Behavior

Zone 2: Connecting

____Creating Relationships: Engaging others
____Sustaining Relationships: maintaining connections AND knowing when to
end them
____Communication—speaking and listening
____Play/Shared Enjoyment/Celebration

Zone 3: Participation 
____Getting involved or not: what do I participate in?
____Need to Contribute: something beyond my own needs
____Enrolling: getting others interested and involved in what I am passionate
____“Part of Something Bigger”/Sense of Place
____Belonging and Welcoming


TOTAL _____

A Few More Human-Animal Cartoons That Amuse Me