When you hear Frank Sinatra sing, “I did it my way,” does your heart soar? If so, you may fall into the enneagram type 4 personality type. This artistic and highly creative type often feels different from their peers, and their quest for self-actualization provides their sense of meaning. You can probably come up with other members of this profile if you think of famous writers and performers. Folks like J.R.R. Tolkien and Morgan Freeman are known for their tremendous artistic contributions. If you fall into this personality type, you face the challenge of connecting with others as well as your inner world.
Enneagram Type 4: The Individualist
When you think of the romantic poets like Keats and Shelley, you imagine a stereotypical enneagram type 4. This personality continually seeks something amorphous that’s just out of their reach. They strive for the unattainable and have high standards of perfection — although their image of the ideal may not match modern society’s. Unlike type 3’s who seek meaning in status symbols, like a mansion in an enviable ZIP code, type 4’s are content with a tidy Airstream in the middle of nowhere — as long as they can call it theirs. Because this individual builds their sense of self-worth around feeling unique or different, they can perceive mundane activities as curses. A type 4 who finds themselves working an assembly line will either wither under the insufferable boredom or find a way to escape mentally. They may look at the lives of others with longing and envy without fully recognizing that nobody’s existence comes free of challenges and conflicts. Enneagram type 4’s crave the deeper meaning of life and often have little patience for small talk. If this individual takes a test to determine their degree of extroversion, they likely fall on the introverted side of the continuum. They need to exercise caution not to spend too much time in quiet reflection. Otherwise, they can become sullen and withdrawn. However, enneagram type 4’s aren’t always silent. When they feel full of passionate, creative energy, they can grow loquacious and enthusiastic about telling everyone what they have in the works. Problems arise if other people don’t share in their excitement, however. They can grow discouraged and abandon their pursuits. This sort needs to learn that the process of creating is a reward in itself, even if they don’t receive immediate accolades for their endeavors.
The Individualist’s Strengths
Type 4’s often have an interest in the arts, and their creativity can spur them to innovations others would never imagine. They’re quick to grasp possibilities, and they dominate at the type of outside-the-box thinking that employers desire. They’re fearless when it comes to trying something new. This personality type can also grasp the full and glorious range of human emotions. They can translate this into works of art that people instantly relate to and find entertaining. When they overcome any shyness and share their unique vision with the world, they often find a receptive audience. If they can maintain a positive forward outlook, they can create timeless works of lasting merit.
The Individualist’s Weaknesses
Unfortunately, the individualist has a sensitive soul that others can wound with a careless word or even a gesture. If they feel like their gifts aren’t appreciated, they can withdraw into an inner world and refuse to emerge. They’re often prone to depression, and outsiders might interpret their behavior as moody. They may even pin the label of drama king or queen on them, not understanding that this type genuinely feels the emotional depths that ravage their souls. Type 4’s also have significant trust issues in many cases. Because of their highly sensitive nature, the words and actions of others wound them deeply. They often struggle with issues of abandonment and feel like nobody else understands them. Unwittingly, their tendency to withdraw into their shell when they feel threatened can push people who do care away.
Relating to Type 4 in the Workplace
If you manage a type 4 individual, you have probably already noticed their creative flair. Try to harness this energy by avoiding mundane and routine chores as much as possible. If you need this person to perform data entry, provide breaks where they can distract themselves. Letting them get up from their desks to take a brisk walk or perform some light exercises or relaxing breathing can help interrupt the monotony. If you’re a type 4, you may feel drawn to the following careers:
- Writer: Type 4’s are natural writers, and they often express themselves better through text than through conversation. This career path enables them to share their unique vision with the world.
- Actor: Unlike type 3’s, type 4’s don’t enter the theater to seek the limelight. However, their spot-on interpretation of human nature often wins them critical acclaim. Think of Joaquin Phoenix’s performance in “Joker.”
- Researcher or scientist: This sort likes to know how things work and how they can make them better. Because they’re interested in elevating humanity, they can feel drawn to fields like medical research. The combination of introspection and creativity involved in running studies excites them.
Relating to Type 4 at Home and in Love
If you’re in love with an enneagram type 4, you probably noticed that they cherish their alone time. Allow them to have this gift. Many people with this personality type want to feel treasured by their loved ones, but they need time to sort through their feelings first. They need to go inside and reflect on the proper words and behaviors to convey their meaning. If you fall into this category, you might feel mortified by your occasional histrionic outburst. Avoid the temptation to beat yourself up for momentary lapses when your emotions overpower your reason. However, do learn how to apologize and make amends if you inadvertently hurt another’s feelings in your pique. You might want to seek the help of a therapist if you suffer from trust or abandonment issues. Mindfulness meditation can also help you build a sense of oneness with others. Your challenge is remembering that everyone is human, and as you make mistakes, they do, too. Try to avoid jumping to conclusions about the behavior and words of others. Remind yourself that if your spouse or child doesn’t react with enthusiasm about your latest project, they could merely be distracted by personal issues. It doesn’t always have to do with you.
Enneagram Type 4: Stay Independent but Learn to Trust
If you’re an enneagram type 4, embrace your creativity and your independence. However, do learn to trust others and let your gifts shine for the world to see.