Enneagram Orientation to Time

“For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.” 
― Eric Roth, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Screenplay

Happy Monday, Enneagram Paths friends! Welcome back. I hope this post finds you safe and well. Today, we’re going to discuss time, specifically how each Enneagram Type has a dominant Time Orientation. For an in-depth look at this idea, I’d recommend The Enneagram Journey podcast Episode 50 by Suzanne Stabile. Basically, there are three (and doesn’t the Enneagram love that number?) Time Orientations: Past, Present, and Future.

Knowing our dominant Time Orientation helps us adjust our perspective when conflicts arise, allowing us to see other sides of a situation, and supporting us in working to understand where other people might be coming from in relation to their focus of attention. Which is the long and short of what Time Orientation is; it’s where we focus most of our thoughts and attention. We have access to all three orientations, so if you’re a Past Oriented person, consciously choosing to experience the present moment or planning for future goals would be healthy, holistic practices to engage in. If you’re a Future Oriented human, then reflect on the past; what went well or wrong, and what you can learn from those encounters, as well as trying to be present in each moment. If you’re Present Oriented, then past and future thinking will help you move out of getting lost in the moment. The key is always balance, accepting and loving how our Type has helped us survive, then inviting in new energies as we work toward integration.

*Please note: Right now, due to Covid shutdowns globally, we are experiencing time trauma; simultaneously processing a future that’s unknown, a present that changes hourly, and past that is re-evaluated. Hopeful trends can be sent backward, past lows can be interpreted as positive. This all at once present, past, and future shifting has us in a kind of “time warp” that can have real impact on our mental, emotional, and physical health. This is different from working toward Enneagram Time Orientation balance. Please make sure you are “making time” to process the disorientation of time. Talk to someone else. Listen to your heart and body. It’s okay to feel totally out of whack.

Past Time Orientation

Type Four:

Four’s emotions and thoughts center most often on what has already happened, what they regret, or an ideal experience they romanticize.

Type Five:

Five’s thoughts center most often on analyzing what has already happened, making sense of previous experiences and feelings, and coming up with logical solutions to earlier problems.

Type Nine:

Nines ruminate about how their lives were both positive and negative in the past, feeling stuck and unable to alter negative patterns or improve the good ones.

Present Time Orientation

Type One:

One’s act in either a flurry of movement or methodical steps, to correct and perfect moment-by-moment the things that come to their attention.

Type Two:

Type Two’s emotions and thoughts center often on what someone else needs, seeking to fulfill it immediately, without regard to past experiences or future consequences.

Type Six:

Sixes immerse themselves in whatever current situation is triggering the Type’s “danger” warning system.

Future Time Orientation

Type Three:

Threes are planning how to efficiently complete the next task and thinking about ways to successfully achieve their goals.

Type Seven:

Sevens can be constantly in motion, thinking about what next fun thing to do and moving toward an ever-evolving horizon.

Type Eight:

Eights seek to pave the way toward their goals by planning exactly how to power past any and all obstacles.

*Cover photo by Alex Perez on Unsplash


3 thoughts on “Enneagram Orientation to Time

  1. As someone who strongly identifies as Type 5 and with preferences for INTJ (a pretty typical combination) I don’t relate in any way to the description in this article. I (realizing my own distinctiveness) am almost exclusively future focused.

    1. As a fellow 5 it also took me a while to see the past focus of my Type. In listening to some podcasts on Time Orientation I realized that I thought I was future because I was always thinking about projects and what I wanted to do (but not doing much of them!) This is suppressed Doing instead of Future Time Orientation and when I was able to understand that, I was then able to see that much of what I thought was future thinking was actually processing past projects (how I did them, how they felt, how I succeeded or failed). It was mostly rooted in the past. You might be a really balanced 5 and have more access to future. Totally possible! And congrats on that! I’m really working to be there myself. But all 5’s do have a firstly dominant Past Orientation.

  2. As a 6w5, I distract myself with analyzing the past and things a great deal, but also … tend to just keep working, ignoring the present circumstances as much as I can (I suppose, moving toward 9 as a numbing method), etc. I have occasional bouts of anxiety about what’s happening but I’m choosing to just… ignore it as much as I can.

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