January 5, 2024
Tania Burgess

A Mindful Approach to Self-Discovery


Understanding ourselves is a lifelong quest, and the Enneagram provides an insightful  roadmap for self-discovery. One integral aspect of this exploration is recognising and addressing our defence mechanisms. In this blog, we'll delve into the them and explore how incorporating mindfulness is a powerful tool for self-awareness and growth.

Unveiling Enneagram Defence Mechanisms

Each expression within the Enneagram has its unique way of protecting that which is values from perceived threats through automatic strategies to protect ourselves. These mechanisms often develop in childhood as coping strategies and often continue unrecognised into adulthood. While they may have served us well in the past, they can hinder personal and interpersonal growth if left unchecked.  Learning how to recognise our automatic responses is the first step to change, followed by the ability to discern whether these defences are helpful or reactive.  Here are the 9 ways our defences might show up.

1. Perfectionism:

Defence Mechanism: Striving for perfection to avoid criticism or imperfection.

Mindful Approach: Cultivate self-compassion and embrace imperfections as opportunities for growth.

2. Considerate Helper:

Defence Mechanism: Seeking approval by being overly helpful and neglecting personal needs.

Mindful Approach: Set healthy boundaries, prioritize self-care, and recognize the value of authenticity.

3. Competitive Achiever:

Defence Mechanism: Over-identifying with success to gain approval and avoid failure.

Mindful Approach: Reflect on intrinsic values, detach self-worth from achievements, and practice self-acceptance.

4. Creative Dreamer, Romantic & Individualist:

Defence Mechanism: Embracing uniqueness to avoid feelings of inadequacy.

Mindful Approach: Embrace the present moment, practice gratitude, and acknowledge the beauty in simplicity.

5. Quiet specialist, Academic, theorist:

Defence Mechanism: Withdrawing emotionally to conserve energy and knowledge.

Mindful Approach: Practice staying present in social interactions, express emotions, and connect with others authentically.

6. Loyal Sceptic, Hyper-vigilance:

Defence Mechanism: Anticipating threats and seeking security through loyalty or scepticism.

Mindful Approach: Develop trust in oneself, practice grounding techniques, and approach uncertainty with curiosity.

7. Enthusiastic Visionary:

Defence Mechanism: Avoiding pain and discomfort through constant activity and distraction.

Mindful Approach: Embrace stillness, practice mindfulness meditation, and explore the richness of the present moment.

8. Active Controller:

Defence Mechanism: Asserting dominance to avoid vulnerability.

Mindful Approach: Practice vulnerability, seek understanding, and channel assertiveness into positive leadership.

9. Adaptive Peacemaker:

Defence Mechanism: Numbing emotions and avoiding conflict to maintain inner peace.

Mindful Approach: Embrace conflict as an opportunity for growth, express feelings, and prioritise self-expression.

Incorporating Mindfulness:

Mindfulness, the practice of being fully present and non-judgmental to your thoughts and feelings, is a valuable companion on the journey of understanding and transforming your defence mechanisms.

  • AwarenessMindfulness encourages self-awareness, helping individuals recognise their automatic reactions and defence mechanisms.
  • Non-Judgment: By adopting a non-judgmental stance, mindfulness allows individuals to observe their thoughts and behaviours without self-criticism, creating space for understanding and acceptance.
  • Present-Moment Focus: Mindfulness cultivates an appreciation for the present moment, helping individuals disengage from past patterns and respond authentically to current situations.
  • Compassion: Mindfulness promotes self-compassion, allowing individuals to treat themselves with kindness and understanding as they navigate their defence mechanisms.


Incorporating mindfulness into the exploration of Enneagram defence mechanisms offers a transformative path to self-discovery and growth. As we develop a mindful awareness of our automatic reactions, we empower ourselves to choose responses that align with our truest selves, fostering deeper connections and personal fulfilment. Embrace the journey with curiosity, compassion, and kindness.

If you find yourself intrigued by the Enneagram and eager to explore your own growth further, consider seeking the guidance of Tania Burgess, a certified Enneagram coach. A coach can provide personalised insights, practical strategies, and a supportive space for your journey toward self-discovery and empowerment.

To explore personalised coaching options, contact Tania here. Your journey to self-discovery and personal growth begins now.