Three Personality Developmental Pathway


Hardwiring : Lead with Emotional intelligence – seeking connection – and avoiding distress by connecting through impressing, being competent, seeking recognition and validation to feel of worth.

Life Strategy : Achieving/presenting at best/don’t fail

Beliefs :

I must be outstanding/competent to be of worth – I must perform, be successful, competent, productive, recognized, I must be seen at my best, see approval in others eyes. FEAR: not being of value.

Habit of attention :

Reading their audience, shapeshifting to become what others value, to meet expectations, being productive to feel worthwhile, ensuring others perceive me well, on completing tasks and projects quickly and efficiently, getting to the end product, having a polished image.

What do they avoid attending to? : Unconsciously shut off how they are feeling by staying busy – believe that feelings get in the way of doing. So then may miss how other people are feeling while they stay so busy, and how they are feeling.

Greatest fear : disapproval/disappointing others, failure

Self identity : I am……

Achieving, productive, successful, competent, driven, like to be outstanding and impress, desire approval

“Being the best at what I do is a strong motivator for me, and I really like to get recognition for my efforts and accomplishments. I get a lot done and try to be successful in everything I take on. I identify strongly with what I do, because to a large degree I think my value is based on what I accomplish and the recognition I get for it. I always have more to do than will fit into the time available. Because negative feelings get in the way of achieving things I can set aside (suspend) feelings to get things done. If I slow down feelings come up – so I like to stay busy. Because there’s always something to do, and I feel at my best when Im achieving or productive, I find it hard to just sit and do nothing – being unproductive creates anxiety. I get impatient with people who don’t use my time well. Sometimes I would rather just take over a project someone is completing too slowly. I like to feel and appear “on top” of any situation. While I like to compete, I am also a good team player. I care very much about my image and like to get peoples approval. I fear failure and disapproval. I often feel hurried, rush to do as much as possible. I care how I present, that Im seen at my best..…I tend to be good at fitting in wherever I am, and can adapt myself in appearance and even attitude according to who I’m with – to get approval and connection. I want to look successful, competent and ‘together’. I can be self-promoting as I want to impress, as if that will prove my worth. I get distressed if my efforts aren’t recognised. I can be quite impatient due to wanting to get a lot done. I am productive, care about my relationships and can be both extroverted and introverted.”

PDP Needs Triggers Strategies to meet Needs

PDP 3attention, validation, success, to achieve, connection, hope, competence, recognition of work, Approval -to feel valuedFeeling anonymous, no one knowing what I do well, feeling incompetent, being unproductive, not making a good impression, disapproval, insufficient recognition of effort/contribution, meetings with no agenda or focus, public failure, wasted effort, feeling disconnected from hopestrive to achieve, present ideal image forthe situation – for approval, do everything to avoid disapproval, in their busyness can suspend /disconnect from feelings whilst focused on an outcome, addictedto being efficient to fit more into their day,work out the expectations of others and focus onmeeting them, take opportunities to share what i do well- hoping to impress others. If I see I impress/connect with others then I feel safe in my value.Promote what Ive done to show evidence of my worth/Value (unconsciously feel they have to prove themselves to others – prove they are of worth).

When 3 Strategies don’t work to connect/achieve –

The primary feeling is Distress. Driven to seek affirmation of value- via an over emphasis on achieving and appearance to prove value. If strategy to impress/be seen well doesn’t work – can drive themselves for status and attention – more promoting, trying to impress, increasing competitiveness, more impatient, performing in an attempt to get approval/admiration- may lead to insincerity – being whatever will get the approval – this may create disconnection from others – and not being present to their own feelings and needs creates self disconnection.

Disconnection is the last thing they want! Need to know that this unconscious over-emphasis can create the very thing they are trying to avoid.

The Blindspots of Three PDP: Inauthenticity / true/deeper feelings / failure

  • Main Blind Spots

o Emotions

o The “real self”

o The downside of working hard and achieving success

o The value of slowing down and learning from failure

People with the Three PDP look for evidence of their value from the outside world. So a strategy to feel of value is to get attention and recognition through achieving – which results in a tendency to create a positive image on everything they do – presenting as competent, confident, all together (even when they don’t feel it). The person with the 3 PDP unconsciously shape-shifts to match an image of what others view as admirable/ what will get them approval and connection, as fearful of disapproval—and then they mistakenly believe they are their image – so it can hard to know their ‘true self’’ (what they truly feel and need). They disown all feelings that get in the way of a good acceptable image. The impact on others is that they may feel like they are not hearing the true (or whole) story. To keep the connection, people with the three PDP are quick to adapt to the expectations of their audience – they can change and modify their behaviour to get the responses they are seeking that validate their value. Fearful of disconnect and disapproval they will adapt what they are saying/doing in an attempt to ensure approval and connection. So others may sense that them as inauthentic and feel like the three is manipulating them into responding a certain way. Often they don’t know what their true feelings, thoughts and needs are, and especially can’t find them in the face of disapproval.

  • Core wounds/hurts and key triggers

▪ Not being “seen” and loved for who they are.

▪ Being praised for “doing”—for what they accomplish vs. their “real self.”

▪ Identifying with a role or image their family or culture values and then striving to become that while neglecting who they really are—and their true feelings and desires.

Can create sadness at being loved for what they do or achieve instead of who they essentially are.

o Anxiety about needing to do and achieve to be admired and valued

o Confusion about who they really are.

o Pain at being disconnected from their “true self.”

Subtype-specific blind spots :

o Self-Preservation 3:

▪ Focuses on: Material security; being good and looking good; working hard to be productive and take care of themselves and the people who depend on them ▪ Specific blind spots: the pressure they put on themselves when they want to look good and be good; the negative impact on them of not being able to slow down; difficulty depending on others

o Social 3:

▪ Focuses on: having a flawless image; corporate mentality; winning; competing to be the best; being recognized as successful ▪ Specific blind spots: vulnerability beneath need to win and be seen; real self behind image; the downside of competing and being so driven

o One-to-one 3:

▪ Focuses on: attracting, pleasing, and cheerleading for others; supporting others’ success ▪ Specific blind spots: who they really are—the real person behind the image of attractiveness; sadness at being so disconnected from self (Bea Chestnut, 2020)


The Virtue that helps is Sincerity/authenticity. Sincerity can be understood as a state of the heart in which Threes access the truth of who they really are. What am I feeling and what am I needing in the moment….can I share that respectfully even if I fear disapproval/disappointing the other, not meeting expectations (that’s the hardest time for them to be honest/sincere). Important to remember that real connection only happens via the truth – which means being vulnerable.

To reflect on – what might be some benefits of not achieving/not being constantly productive??

The journey is to own all their feelings, even the ones they think aren’t “appropriate” – to be authentic – to identify and accept their feelings and needs in the moment. To do and feel at the same time. To learn to rest in their own value/own inherent worth – that their worth is not in what they do, but in who they are..their character. To see themselves through their own eyes. And to learn to value rest.

How their partner can help them grow :

The person with the 3 PDP automatically suspends feelings in the busyness of life/getting things done, so they have great difficult in knowing their feelings and then in validating them (and they may not have had their feelings validated in childhood – they may have had to present in a way that kept their parents’ approval). Therefore its very important for their partners to hear and help them identify their feelings and especially to validate them – give them the message they have a right to feel however it is they are feeling. When the 3 person feels any disapproval or rejection of their feelings from their partner they shut down, get cool and don’t know how to connect (what they most want in life). They are self conscious and sensitive to disapproval. They want their partner to view them at their best/well – to be reflected well in the others eyes. Do all you can to help your 3 partner feel valued for who they are, and appreciated for their efforts.

Reflection Questions

  1. Reflect on the above information : when do your primary beliefs help you in life? When do they not help you, or not help your partner? Could they potentially cause conflict? How true are they really?

Reflect on where your attention goes? ….and then consider – if that’s the case , what do I not notice…… where does my attention might not go?

What situations most trigger you? Reflect on how your needs and triggers are different to your partners?

Can you think of times you’ve used the ‘strategies’ listed in the table above and did they work? When did they not work?

  1. Attempt to fill in your PDP Map, putting in just the information that it is true for you
  1. Then compare the differences between your PDP Map and your partners – knowing each is an equally valid way to be in the world……and makes complete sense. And to know you will be unconsciously stepping on your partner’s core fears/wounds..and to reflect on the importance of committing to not do that – you can heal each other rather than harm each other.