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The Pragmatists or Attachment Triad: Enneagram Three, Six and Nine

A fascinating triad within the Enneagram is the Attachment Triad, also referred to as the Pragmatists or the Earth Triad. This triad consists of types 3, 6, and 9, providing insight into how individuals connect with others and thrive in society.

Don Riso and Russ Hudson coined the term “Attachment Triad,” illustrating how these types attach themselves to the world. They are the people-to-people connectors, the types that navigate daily life with a keen awareness of their relationships with others. Dr. Bill Schafer in his book “Roaming Free Inside The Cage” called these types the “Earth Triad,” denoting their critical role in shaping our society by creating tangible connections to others:

The three types forming the Enneagram’s central triangle each belongs to a different center of experience. Nine is a body type, Three an emotional type, and Six a mental type. Each type, working in an egoic framework, could be seen as constricting or cutting off their flow of original energy (soul/life-force) in different ways. Schaffer uses the energetic concepts or metaphors of Yin, Yang, and Reconciling  energies from Chinese philosophy and medicine to help us to understand this better. We might say that the energy of Nines is unbalanced towards yin, that of Threes toward yang, and Sixes distort original energy through egoic efforts to neutralize yin and yang.


The concept of yin and yang originates from ancient Chinese philosophy, where yin represents feminine, passive, receptive, and inward-focused energy, while yang symbolizes masculine, active, and outward-focused energy. It’s crucial to clarify that these qualities aren’t gender-specific; they’re energy attributes that everyone possesses in varying proportions. Achieving a balance between yin and yang energies is considered essential for holistic well-being.

When the notion of yin and yang balance is applied to the Enneagram, specifically to type 9 (the Peacemaker), an overabundance of yin energy could suggest that these individuals may lean too heavily toward passivity, receptivity, and inward-focus, sometimes at the expense of their active, assertive (yang) traits.

This excessive yin could lead to a sense of apathy or inertia, possibly causing them to struggle with inaction or complacency. They might avoid confrontations or challenging situations, and their own personal development may stall as they hesitate to step outside of their comfort zone.

To bring balance to their yin energy, Type 9s need to cultivate more yang traits, like assertiveness, action, and outward expression. This could mean speaking up for their own needs and desires, setting boundaries, taking initiative, and learning to comfortably navigate conflict rather than always avoiding it.

Balancing yin and yang is about finding the right mix of receptivity and action. For Type 9s, it’s about maintaining their innate ability to create harmony and acceptance while also asserting their individual needs and desires and taking proactive steps towards personal growth. It’s a journey of self-discovery that involves cultivating a healthy assertiveness without losing their inherent peaceful and accepting nature.


Yang energy is often associated with masculinity, activity, assertiveness, and outward expression. The Enneagram’s Type 3, known as the Achiever, is characterized by their ambition, adaptability, and drive for success. They are goal-oriented individuals who strive to be the best in their chosen fields and are often externally focused, all of which can be associated with yang energy.

However, when a Type 3’s yang energy is unbalanced, it might manifest as overactivity, excessive competitiveness, and an overemphasis on external accomplishments. They might be so driven to achieve and maintain an image of success that they neglect their inner world, their true feelings, and deeper connections. This could lead to workaholism, stress, burnout, and disconnection from their authentic selves. They might also disregard the needs of others in their pursuit of personal goals, potentially damaging relationships.

For a Type 3 to achieve balance, they would need to cultivate more of their yin energy. This might involve slowing down, paying more attention to their feelings and needs, nurturing relationships, and finding value in who they are, not just what they achieve. It may mean learning to appreciate stillness and receptivity and understanding that it’s okay not to be constantly on the go or achieving.

The journey to balance yang energy for a Type 3 involves recognizing their worth beyond their accomplishments. It’s about embracing the reality that they are more than their successes and understanding that their value doesn’t solely hinge on their productivity or achievements. Cultivating yin qualities allows Type 3s to maintain their inherent ambition while also fostering a deeper connection with themselves and others, ultimately leading to a more holistic sense of fulfillment.


The Enneagram’s Type 6, commonly known as the Loyalist, is often recognized for their need for security, their loyalty, and their constant inner questioning. These attributes reflect the qualities of both yin and yang energies.

The struggle for Type 6s to reconcile yin and yang energies comes from their inherent contradictions. On the one hand, their need for security and their inclination to overthink and worry are deeply introspective, more yin-like qualities. On the other hand, they also possess an inherent desire to engage with their surroundings, often showing commitment and taking action when they feel safe and assured, reflecting yang energy.

An imbalance may occur when a Type 6 allows either the yin or yang energy to dominate excessively. They might become overly passive and inwardly focused, thus paralyzed by fear and doubt (excessive yin), or they might overcompensate for their fears by acting out in an overly assertive or even aggressive manner (excessive yang).

The challenge for Type 6s is to reconcile these two energies, acknowledging and balancing their needs for security and reassurance with their desire to engage actively with the world. This might involve cultivating trust, reducing anxiety, and learning to balance their natural caution with the confidence to act decisively.

Finding this equilibrium allows a Type 6 to utilize their introspective yin qualities to better understand their anxieties and needs. Simultaneously, it encourages them to harness their assertive yang energy to actively engage with the world, make decisions, and establish relationships built on trust. This reconciliation of energies is a crucial aspect of personal growth for a Type 6, leading to a more balanced and harmonious life.


The common theme that threads through these types is the concept of loss. Each of these types “loses” something crucial in their quest for attachment – HOPE for type 3s, FAITH for type 6s, and SELF-LOVE for type 9s. This loss often stems from their preoccupation with worldly attachments and reassurances.

If you identify as one of these types, the pathway to personal growth is to understand this loss and strive for balance. It’s about allowing ourselves to feel emotional discomfort that challenges your routines, locating our self-directed agency, and learning to incorporate our better qualities into our day-to-day focus.

Striving to regain these higher qualities isn’t about completely detaching from the world, but rather about recalibrating our relationship with it.

Type 3s can embrace their ambition while understanding that they are enough as they are. Type 6s can seek security while trusting in the intrinsic safety of existence. Type 9s can strive for peace and harmony without forgetting their worth.