WHAT IS FRUSTRATION IN ENNEAGRAM TERMS?
Frustration is a universal human experience, but it’s also a personality’s ego fixation in the enneagram system relating to “object relations” which is how we interact with the world around us is supposed to relate to our parental dynamics and wounds. It’s the over-fixation on the ideal - what could be and what isn’t. What’s desired and what’s missing. And they can go hard in one direction and then hard in the other direction. They can become fixated on what’s wrong, what’s missing, the disappointment, the lament of what was and no longer is, what could be altered, beautified, made more interesting, more personal, more perfect.
Frustration is essentially being in a constant state of WITHOUT instead of WITH. There is always something not quite right. Something annoying. Out of kilter. Not me enough. Not perfect. Not interesting. Boring. Common. Shallow. Disgusting. The pursuit of experiencing satisfaction is what they’re doing, not achieving satisfaction itself. And once they do achieve satisfaction, it’s often short-lived or disappointing. And the cycle repeats itself. And they may even edge, if they start feeling close to that one moment (getting what they want) - knowing it won’t live up to the ideal, or not wanting the fantasy to end.
This can show up as a grandiose fantasies of their version of the ideal - whether that’s in themselves - and their self-concept and what’s possible for them, in their art, in their partner, children, friends, business, the entire world, their house, their clothing and adornments, the weather, their bodies, the sex, the juice, the energy. Frustration makes itself home in enneagram type 1’s, 4’s and 7’s. It also shows up as an influence when you have a wing which is 1, 4, 7 or a fix. And the frustration is amplified when you have it 2 or 3 of your centers.
The kicker about frustration and all of the types is that you are creating the pattern that fucks you over (your personality trap). Your vibe attracts your tribe. Meaning if you are constantly frustrated, you will attract people, situations, issues that amplify and feed that belief and energy.
What’s positive about frustration types is that because they are so obsessively trying to capture, create, chase the ideal they can funnel that obsessive, unsettled energy into creating change in the world, the arts, innovation, social structures/culture, etc. Their dissatisfaction becomes a catalyst for change, although it may cause personal ruin the process.
Enneagram 1's are frustrated in the gut center, giving them a God complex. They seek to exist in a way that is right, perfect and unadulterated by whatever their internal compass tells them is corrupt, bad, dirty and wrong. So this frustration is seen and felt primarily in the torso, the body. That’s why 1’s are often rigid looking, they look like they’ve got knuckle-crushing buttholes and are in a perpetual state of disapproval. They’re constantly churning the need to perfect, do, whittle, clean, wipe, purify, burn, pick at and that oozes out of their very being. They have incredibly high standards which can be centered around efficiency, competency, what’s right, pure, perfect, good, clean aesthetic, properness, manners, etc.
Their frustration object is something they need to FIX, perfect, eradicate, correct. They’re fixating this energy inwards, at themselves as well as outwards. They’re often seen as critical towards others, especially if they have a 6 fix and social instinct, but that’s just their baseline. That’s the world they live in.
They are already doing this to themselves and they project it onto whatever shows up around them, likely fixated more in their dominant instinct. SO this can be their partner or sexual fixation, their loved ones, coworkers, the outer world, their environment, home, art, craft, job. And when after many times trying to clean up the mess if they cannot fix the person, situation, environment they may feel the urge to replace it with a new frustration object or a new fixation. Although you may never be able to fully move on from the frustration object if it still exists.
Enneagram 4’s are frustrated in the heart center. Meaning the image they are projecting from inside of themselves is constantly at odds with the world around it. They’re out of congruence with their environment, people, etc, and it cannot be fixed. They don’t know how to exist in such a shallow, disgusting, empty reality. They’re both frustrated by it and fed by it. If they get what they want, they’ll find a way to ruin it because getting it might signal to the ego that they are now part of shallow, shiny reality. This is not to be confused with 6 head griping which is more associated with outsourcing their power or being angry at some kind of authority figure or system. 4’s are positively identified with “negativity.” Being different in a way that is not relatable or accessible can seem from the outside as someone who won’t play ball, is moody, hateful, an asshole.
But they’re also deep poets and lone wolves - or like to tell themselves they are. Separate. Superior and inferior. Tragic and fascinating. According to them they don’t suffer like a 6 or a 9, their concerns are not relatable and you wouldn’t understand. They’re not inviting you to understand either. That’s attachment territory. If you did get a whiff of understanding, it would mean that “thing” was now cheap, common, not good enough for the 4 to ruminate and fixate and chew on and will be either discarded or further personalized and transformed to feel like it’s more personal and specific to them. It’s not special when it’s everyone else’s thing. Ptooey. And again, this is not to be confused with the 6 urge to be an emo shit-poster edgelord with eyeliner and black hair. That’s not different. That’s a subculture.
This frustrated, separated self-concept oozes dramatically and broodingly out of their countenance, their faces, their visages, the window to their soul. They are the unwilling cover model who wants you to know they don’t like posing but also wants you to see how deep they are. And have no comment on it.
4’s are first and foremost their own primary frustration object, unconsciously deepening their experience of themselves, and creating a continuous narrative around how deep, profound, separate, and beautifully broken they are. They’re unreachable unless they grant you the key, and that key is likely conditional and not permanent. This can be flavoured by their fixes - with 6 there is an amplification of self-loathing and the inescapability of the horror of self, with 1 there is an amplification of snootiness and disgust, with 7 there is an amplification of melodrama and self-fixation, swinging between self-loathing and self-aggrandizing, 4 with 5 is more prone to reactive nihilism (not to be confused with 9’s apathy and numbing), etc.
But this frustration will also show up in relationships, objects, art, their environment that they seek to make more deep, meaningful, mysterious, and personal to their specific tastes and internal narratives of who they are. It will be more noticeable in their dominant instinct - whether that’s social, sexual or self-pres. And yes, that can mean trying to impose this frustration narrative onto someone they’re in a relationship with to personalize them to their own desires. Unconsciously trying to push them into being (or gaslight themselves into thinking they’re) more deep, unique or interesting than they actually are, or that their connection is somehow special and beyond the realm of mere mortals. And when something feels less than special or won’t reach that ideal, it can become devalued in the 4’s eyes.
7’s are frustrated in the head center. Meaning they want to be tantalized, obsessed, excited, turned on, lit up, distracted from the mundane, aroused by whatever their frustration objects are. And because there are likely to be many they can become spread across many frustration delights, never experiencing true satisfaction which also leads to them not finishing projects, not committing to anything, always having a plan B, C, D… They might be simultaneously existing in multiple realities hedging their bets for the most satisfying and ideal option - however because they do this, they never get satisfaction.
Type 7’s frustration objects will be something they want - a possibility - something they feel that they NEED - to taste, experience, milk, lose themselves in. Something shiny. New. Intriguing. Sexy. Hot. Novel. Never conquered. Never tasted. 7’s can enter a total state of fantastical mania when they’re stressed out with reality or bored as fuck with their life, creating alternate realities to exist in, that expand these fantasies they have for their life, themselves, their relationships, their art… it’s all about possibilities.
Ideas, creations, booze or drugs, people, their partner, experiences, partying, places, food, interests, hobbies. Once this thing dries of its juicy nectar, the 7 is likely to lose interest and find another sparkly object. Although they may remain with one pinky toe still in it, in case that nectar returns or it becomes exciting to them again by some other means. They try and create this feeling of juiciness around them as they can grow bored easily in stagnant, repetitive and dull environments.
They can get bored with situations, commitments, people, relationships, jobs, projects very easily as soon as they start to slip into the inevitable frustration pattern backslide. Disappointment. Time-sucking. Feeling like an obligation. Not being fun anymore. Not being interesting anymore. And this can show up when shit gets real - your partner is depressed or unwell, you’re having to work more hours at the job, the dream art career wasn’t as exciting and razzle dazzle. 7’s can focus when they really want something but it can be horrendously taxing to remain invested in something that no longer feels juicy.
WHAT TO DO WITH IT?
The antidote to frustration is gratitude for what is and not for what could be.
Presence without conditions (just ALLOWING the situation/person to be as it is).
Realizing that you’re not SETTLING by just being content. You’re not giving up, or becoming part of the mundane reality that you despise. You’re simply allowing yourself grace, some level of comfort, peace, abundance, joy, appreciation. Which is the energy in which you can actually align yourself to what you desire on a soul level. And you can begin to create that from the inside, which will inevitably, and easily create it for you on the outside.
Watch the video linked above to go through a short exercise.
If you want to learn more about how the mind works and how to change your patterns, you can sign up for my Shadow Work + Enneagram course - or watch my freebie video.