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If you’ve looked at the enneagram symbol for even half a second, you’ve noticed that each number has two lines that connect to it.
These lines are more than just a way to make an interesting symbol. Understanding the enneagram lines is a crucial part in using the enneagram to grow as a person.
What Do the Lines of the Enneagram Mean?
The lines on the enneagram connect each type to two other types. These lines are paths for growth (although they can also be used in unhealthy ways as I’ll explain below)
You will want to get familiar with your connecting numbers as these will provide great insight as to how you function as well as paths to help you grow.
The Many Names of the Enneagram Lines
Unfortunately, the lines of the enneagram have many names. First off, they are in general called either enneagram lines, enneagram arrows, and less commonly enneagram paths.
I personally prefer lines or paths. Enneagram arrows leads towards faulty thinking about how these connecting numbers can work in our lives. More on that below.
As there are two lines that connect to each type, each line has been given a name… and again, unfortunately not everyone uses the same name… and I’ll explain why giving names to these lines isn’t helpful anyways in a bit.
One line is often called a growth line/arrow or it is also called a line of integration.
The other line is often called a stress line/arrow or it is also called a line of disintegration.
You may also see people talk about growth numbers or stress numbers. This refers to the number that these lines connect each type to.
Example: Type 1 has lines connecting it to numbers 4 and 7.
We’ve Been Labeling the Enneagram Lines Incorrectly
As I said, for years and years now, we’ve been talking about the lines of the enneagram in a pretty static way. The growth line was talked about as a good thing and the stress line was seen as a bad thing.
However, this is an incomplete view of how the lines work.
Understanding The Enneagram Lines
How The Enneagram Lines Actually Work
The lines of the enneagram connect each type with two other numbers. But one number isn’t good while the other is bad.
In actuality, we can use both of our connecting numbers in healthy or unhealthy ways.
This means your stress number is not something to be avoided and your growth number can be used in unhealthy ways!
When Two Numbers Are Actually Four
I and many other enneagram teachers now give the line numbers four different names to show how they are used in unhealthy or healthy ways.
There are still just two connecting lines (two numbers) but since we can use each number in an unhealthy or healthy way, we’ve labeled then as a total of four number names.
- Growth number (this is the same “growth number” that’s been used for decades – healthy)
- Stress number (this is the same “stress number” that’s been used for decades – unhealthy)
- Security number (this is your “growth number” used in average to unhealthy ways)
- Missing Piece number (this is your “stress number” used in healthy ways)
What is the Growth Number?
Your growth number is the number that you move towards (in healthy ways)when you relax the grip on your type and grow out of some of the unhealthy traits of your type.
Alternative names: Sometimes called “security number” which is extra confusing because those who call the growth number a “security number” are using the term in the growth sense and not in what I call Security number… thankfully they are both the same number on the enneagram. Also is referred to as the “relaxation point” or “integration” or “energizing point”.
You can learn more about the growth numbers in my post: Enneagram Types in Growth.
What is the Stress Number
Your stress number is the number that you tend to default to in times of stress. By default, we tend to use the unhealthy traits of this number in stress but with a conscious effort we can also learn to use the healthy traits to help us through stressful seasons.
Alternative names: “resource point” or “disintegration” or “resolution point”
You can learn ore about the stress numbers in my post: Enneagram Types Under Stress.
What is the Security Number?
Your security number is the number that you might find yourself using (in average to unhealthy ways) only when around close friends and family… those you are secure with.
Much like our stress number, we want to be aware that we can fall into the negative traits a little too easily. Our friends and family will put up with these traits because they love us but we don’t want to use these traits poorly.
However, the average traits can often be used to help us shift a bit from our usual main enneagram number.
Ideally, we want to be able to show the world these good traits but that takes a longer process with our growth number… it’s often easiest to show our family and friends these average traits which is why it’s our security number. You could consider your security number as your training wheels.
Alternative names: occasionally hinted at by saying “the low side of your growth number”, also is wrapped up into the names “relaxation point” or “energizing point”.
You can learn more about the security numbers in my post: Enneagram Security Number.
What is the Missing Piece number?
Your Missing Piece number is when we take on the healthy traits of our “stress number” when we being reaching our healthiest levels and this missing piece helps us move beyond the grip of our main type.
You will not morph into this missing piece type (once a 4 always a 4). Your missing piece simply allows you to become what you most desire while staying your main type. It’s the remaining piece to help bring balance to your main type.
Alternative names: occasionally hinted at by saying “the high side of your stress number”, also is wrapped up into the names “resource point” or “resolution point”.