What Are the Enneagram Types and Why Should You Care?

By Kara Reynolds | Jan 27, 2020

If you’re familiar with personality tests, you’ve likely heard of the enneagram. This personality tool helps you understand yourself better by categorizing your personality into one of nine types. Each of the enneagram types has unique strengths and weaknesses, showing you ways in which you can use these to your advantage and seek to improve. The enneagram is also incredibly helpful in understanding others and how they communicate. For instance, if you know your husband is a type nine, or a peacemaker, you’ll better understand why he avoids conflict and steers clear of arguments. Knowing this can help you communicate better. In this post, we’ll briefly cover the nine enneagram types and their fundamental strengths and weaknesses. This article will be the first in a series of posts regarding the enneagram. In the coming months, we’ll dive deeper into each enneagram type as you discover your personality and develop a more comprehensive understanding of yourself and your relationships with others.

Type 1: Moral Perfectionist

Type ones are diligent and noble, striving for moral goodness. They focus on the way things should be and seek to make themselves a role model for others who are learning. However, this may cause some issues when they realize that things rarely go the way they should. Everyone has imperfections and makes mistakes, even them. Recognizing flaws within others and themselves, type ones can become overwhelmed by the feeling of having to set things right. They often wrestle with resentment at their inability to control life, and are rather uncomfortable in chaotic situations.

Type 2: Supportive Adviser

People with a type two personality are generally caring, helpful and nurturing. Many mothers fit into this category as they learn to care for their children. When they offer unconditional love to their children and everyone around them, they often search for that same love from others. They long to have other people love them for who they are. So, often, they spend their time trying to win the affection of others. They give of themselves selflessly, putting their needs on the back burner. Thus, type twos should work on incorporating more self-care into their routine.

Type 3: Successful Achiever

Outstanding and productive, type threes want to feel accomplished, valued and knowledgeable. They often seek approval and affirmation from others. But, unlike type twos, threes try to earn love through success. Therefore, they avoid failure at all costs and sometimes brag or flaunt their accomplishments to prove their worthiness. So, if you have a friend who always wears the latest designer clothing, posts about their achievements and seems to talk about themselves more than anything else, they may be a type three.

Type 4: Romantic Individualist

Type fours offer a unique perspective on life and love by embracing their individualism and that of others. They’re typically artistic, authentic, creative and sensitive. They seek the deep meaning of life more than other types. However, this may lead them to spend too much time focusing on how different they are from others. They can start to feel alone or disconnected from others. Many also suffer mood swings, since they tend to focus on and delve deep into their emotions.

Type 5: Investigative Thinker

Perceptive and insightful, type fives walk through life with curiosity and objectivity. They seek to live practical lives, making wise, well-thought-out decisions based on facts and reason. However, they often see the world as intrusive and something they are unable to control. They combat these feelings by gathering as much knowledge as they can. Many also retreat to a special place to recharge and process through information in times of grief or exhaustion. Doing so helps them establish boundaries and protect their well-being.

Type 6: Loyal Guardian

Type sixes are incredibly steady, reliable and hardworking people. They believe in the common good and maintain a fierce loyalty to friends and family. But they also tend to be hyper-vigilant, scanning their surroundings for things or people that could jeopardize their safety or relationships. Sometimes, they can let this worry or fear get the best of them, and they become more controlling. They may even believe that, if they prepare enough, they can save others from danger or unfortunate circumstances.

Type 7: Entertaining Optimist

Social butterflies often happen to be type sevens as well. These types of people enjoy adventure and see the positive side of every situation. They radiate positivity and want to share their optimism with everyone around them. Type sevens can also have some severe fear of missing out, though. They’re always longing for more satisfaction, fulfillment and excitement in their lives. Consequently, they struggle to say no to people and situations, using these as ways to escape sadness or complicated emotions.

Type 8: Protective Challenger

Type eights like to live life with confidence and find purpose in being an agent of change. They’re decisive and assertive and take on the role of leader more than a follower, which allows them to make powerful differences in their world. This desire to incite action can come off as blunt, insensitive and even vengeful at times. They also tend to steel themselves against emotions and other people to protect their feelings and agenda. This behavior can lead others to view them as controlling or aggressive.

Type 9: Peaceful Mediator

Able to see and consider all points of view, type nines are easygoing and non-judgmental. They aim to keep the peace within their social circles and dread being the one to create rifts. Thus, type nines often suppress their thoughts, emotions and beliefs for the sake of maintaining peace. In focusing too much on others, they lose their identity and become frustrated because they feel overlooked. Eventually, their peacekeeping efforts backfire when others get frustrated with their complacency, creating conflict that they worked so hard to avoid.

Why Should You Care about the Enneagram Types?

The enneagram isn’t a dictionary. Instead, it’s a tool to help you understand the motivations and behaviors of yourself and others. There is no one-size-fits-all personality test, even within a type, as everyone is different. No one type is more successful, happy or better than another. It’s common to find a little of yourself and others in multiple types. However, if you spend some time observing your actions, you may discover one of these nine categories speaks to you more than the others. Once you discover which of the enneagram types most matches your personality, you become more self-aware and able to tweak your reactions, communication style and response to challenging situations. It can help you live a more fulfilled life with stronger relationships. Moreover, once you determine the types of those you hang around the most, you can begin to understand them better and find new ways to communicate and bond with them, taking your relationships to a deeper, more meaningful level.

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