The really crucial problem for type Nine individuals is that they tend to have an inadequate sense of self
. This leads to a tendency on the part of Nines to both downplay their own significance and to borrow a sense of significance from others
. There is, in fact, a sort of paradox at the heart of the type Nine fixation. At a largely subconscious level, Nines intuitively grasp that the constructed personality, the personality with which most of us identify, is not the true self; it is not who they are.
Without a well developed personality, without a firm sense of self and adequately defined boundaries, the Nine is left in a state of permeability to forces both outside the ego and to those subterranean forces that reside beneath it
. Understanding this essential porousness of the ego of enneatype Nine is absolutely essential to an understanding of all of the basic manifestations of the Nine's specific problems and challenges. It is the difficulty that type Nine individuals have in addressing this core issue which is called in the traditional enneagram, the vice of indolence. As already indicated, indolence does not here refer to laziness in the traditional sense, although it can manifest in that manner in some individuals, but to the lack of attention to the most important matter at hand, the lack of attention to what constitutes true work, i.e. the development of a solid sense of self from which the Nine can be truly effective in the world.
True love does involve openness to others and permeability of ego boundaries; it does involve acceptance and forgiveness; it does involve a sense of the interconnectedness of all things, just as Nines have known all along. Like all of the fixations, the type Nine fixation can be viewed as a sort of failed short cut; it can be viewed as the personality's flawed attempt to achieve the true virtue. As type Nine individuals learn to love and honor their own integrity, they are able to extend that love to others in a truly effective and beneficial manner. As they heal themselves, they heal their relationships with others and actively work towards healing the wounds of our ailing planet. Nines are sometimes called "the peacemakers" but they are not really worthy of that name until they leave behind the idea that peace is synonomous with the absence of conflict. Making peace requires the Nine to develop a truly active nature, the nature that Nines are able to manifest when they shed the passivity associated with their fixation.