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Anatomy of the Enneagram Types

education enneagram Feb 18, 2019

Hello, Fellow Enneagram Aficionados! It’s Your Enneagram Coach Beth, back to explore the ins and outs of every Type with you. When most people discover the Enneagram, their first order of business is usually to learn as much as they can about their own Type. They’re natural priority is to uncover the Core Motivations behind their own thoughts, feelings, behaviors and struggles, and the ways they can keep themselves on a healthy path. (Don’t know your Enneagram type? Take my free assessment)

This is a wonderful first step, but the beauty of the Enneagram is that it gives us so much insight, not only into ourselves, but also into all the people around us. You most likely know at least one person of every Type, and learning more about who they are and what makes them tick has so many benefits. Not only will you gain greater awareness of why your spouse, children, friends, and co-workers do what they do, but you’ll also be able to extend more grace, empathy and forgiveness to them. Gaining a deep understanding of the Types also helps you better communicate and resolve conflicts with the people you interact with every day, and who doesn’t want that?

So let’s dive in to the inner worlds, struggles and primary perspectives and of each Type, and let us use this knowledge to bring more kindless, empathy and understanding to all our relationships. After all, this is what the world so desperately needs.

(Different teachers use various names for each Type. One of my teachers and Enneagram expert, Katherine Fauvre, uses two-word descriptors I believe fully capture the essence of each Type. We prefer to use them, but most Enneagram teachers typically address each Type by number as the descriptive names can vary and can sometimes conjure biases, whether positive or negative. No Type is better or worse than another. All Types are equal; therefore, we typically refer to them by their number.)

We believe each Type reflects God’s glory and creativity when we are healthy and aligned with the gospel. We also believe each Type reflects the fall of man and our struggle with sin and death when we are not healthy or out of alignment with the gospel. 

Type 1: The Moral Perfectionist

Upstanding and responsible, Type Ones are always striving to do what they view as right. They walk through life focused on the way things should be, and seek to improve everything around them.  

However, this is an imperfect world, and Type Ones often feel assaulted by the flaws they notice wherever they turn. In an attempt to appease this, they carry a personal obligation to correct the errors in their everyday life. This overwhelming burden leaves them with a chronic dissatisfaction, since the task of improving things is never finished.

They don’t acknowledge their frustration and even anger, because that would be “bad” and their core longing is to be seen as “good". They wrestle with internal resentment because they can’t control life and put everything the way it should be.

When trying to satisfy their longing for things to be good and right apart from Christ, Type Ones can become self-controlling, but also perfectionistic and critical of others.

Internally, they struggle to believe that they are worthy or good enough, because their inner critic is constantly accusing them. To silence this berating voice, they are extremely hard on themselves, striving always do what is right without making mistakes, an exhausting and impossible task.

Type Ones may also struggle in relationships, when others experience their “helpful advice” as criticism and judgment, or perceive them as overly demanding of perfection, though their heart is truly to help.

However, when their heart is aligned with the Gospel and they learn to take their longings to Christ, they can begin to let go of the extremely high and unrealistic standards they hold for themselves and others. Then, their principled and purposeful nature is able to bring out the best in themselves and others, truly making the world a better place. When they don’t have to prove that they are good and earn the love that they so desperately long for, Type Ones can find true rest.


They believe that it is their obligation and responsibility to fix and improve the world since it is full of imperfections. Their primary focus of attention is noticing errors, mistakes, and problems that need fixing. It is more accurate to say that they are not seeking out imperfections, but imperfection leaps out and assaults them. They believe that everything can and should be done in a right, perfect, orderly, and systematic way. They follow particular procedures to ensure each task is completed with precision and accuracy.

Healthy Self-Image

I am accurate, thorough, diligent, responsible, moral, correct, just, in control, and fair.

Key Motivations

Type Ones want to be virtuous and right, to have principle and integrity, to strive higher, to improve themselves, others and the world around them, to be consistent with good character ideals, and to be above criticism and moral reproach so no one can condemn them.

Ones Do Not Want

Type Ones do not want to be deemed as bad, foolish, sloppy, lazy or of low moral character. They’re uncomfortable in chaotic environments or situations that feel out of their control. They don’t want to be proven wrong, to make errors or display extreme emotions.

Type 2: The Supportive Advisor

Type Twos walk through life prioritizing relationships, making sure the people around them always feel well-cared for and loved. They take a genuine interest in others and come alongside anyone in need through their acts of service, helpful advice, and nurture.

However, the depth of need and suffering in our world is especially burdensome to them as naturally sensitive and empathetic people. They feel that it is their job to alleviate the pain of hurting people around them, an unending responsibility.

Type Twos seek satisfaction by trying to help because deep down they struggle believing that they are loved and wanted by the people in their life apart from the support they offer. In their attempt to fulfill this longing to be loved and appreciated apart from Christ, they can become people pleasing and possessive, inserting themselves into the lives of others and violating boundaries.

This overwhelming burden to care for everyone is damaging when they begin to attend to others’ needs without adequately dealing with their own. In their pride, they may believe they know what’s best and can take care of everyone, while denying the care they themselves require.

Relationally, they may struggle when others feel crowded by their efforts to help. They may feel hurt and insecure when they aren’t needed and double down on their efforts to win people over, by “people-pleasing”, flattery, and looking for more ways to make people like them.

However, when their heart is aligned with the Gospel and they learn to take their longings to Christ, Type Twos begin to tend to their own needs knowing that they are wanted and love apart from what they can do for others. From that place flows a selfless generosity, encouragement, and a redemptive kindness our world desperately needs.


They don’t believe it’s possible that they can be loved unconditionally for simply who they are, so they must win the approval of others by feeling other’s emotions and fulfilling their needs. They project the image of being a completely selfless, loving, and supportive person in order to earn approval and affirmation from others. They are convinced that if they acknowledge and take care of their own needs (emotional, relational, or physical), it will jeopardize their relationships because others might view they as “selfish” and reject them.

Healthy Self-Image

I am helpful, caring, warm, nurturing, altruistic, demonstrative, and considerate.

Key Motivations

Type Twos want to be needed, appreciated and affirmed by others. They try to win the affections of others through service and support, to the detriment of their own emotional and physical needs.

Twos Do Not Want

Type Twos do not want to feel left out or without connection to others. They are uncomfortable in situations where there is no way for them to serve the people around them, or when they must acknowledge their own need for help.

Type 3: The Successful Achiever

Type Threes are optimistic, accomplished, and adaptable people who are able to achieve, excel and reach ambitious goals with apparent ease and confidence.

However, in our fast paced and comparison-driven society with limitless opportunities to achieve more, drive results, and excel in new ways, they struggle to keep up with the belief that they must be successful in every area of life. Burdened to appear successful and impress the people around them, they live under a constant pressure to measure their worth by external achievement and confidence.

Their deep fear of being worthless, a failure or incapable, causes them to struggle with deceit, hiding parts of themselves that they don’t want others to see, and only portraying a successful exterior. In doing so they become unaware of who they authentically are in their own heart, which not only affects them, but also those around them.

When trying to satisfy their longing for accomplishment and admiration apart from Christ, Type Threes can become excessively driven and image-conscious. By being competitive, self-promoting, and constantly comparing themselves to others, they run the risk of burnout and believing they are only as good as their last accomplishment.

However, when their heart is aligned with the Gospel, they believe that they are loved and valued for who they really are, not just for their success and productivity. Their confidence, enthusiasm, and determination rubs off and inspires those around them. They become a humble team player and a champion of others. Using their adaptability and drive for productivity and excellence, they allow for incredible achievements for the greater good.


Type Threes believe they can only be loved by being or appearing accomplished, therefore, they avoid failure at all costs and shape-shift so they look successful. The slightest appearance of failure is terrifying, so they tend to embellish the truth in hopes that others will only see them as successful, admirable, valuable, efficient, and accomplished. When they are struggling in life, they might double down in their efforts to appear successful by bragging, flaunting their accomplishments, dressing well or owning more expensive items.

Healthy Self-Image

I am successful, admirable, desirable, efficient, outstanding, productive, and effective.

Key Motivations

Type Threes want to feel valuable, competent and accomplished. They seek affirmation, attention and notoriety from others.

Threes Do Not Want

Type Threes avoid failure or looking lazy, unprepared or average to others. They don’t want to be overshadowed, to ask others for help or to be caught in distortions of the truth.

Type 4: The Romantic Individualist

Type Fours bring a unique beauty, depth, creativity and understanding to the world around them and embrace a wide range of emotions and experiences. They’re in tune with profound despair and suffering, and bravely press into those depths to discover rich meaning in all of life.

Just as they are eager to explore our complicated world in search for meaning and authentic connection, they desire to look inside themselves to find their unique significance and value. However, they then feel burdened by a constant feeling that they alone are missing something important. Craving ideal circumstances or love, they often feel disconnected or fundamentally flawed.

Struggling with feelings of envy, they compare themselves to others, believing those around them possess the things for which they long.

When they attempt to find their unique significance apart from Christ, they can become self-absorbed and temperamental. They are painfully self-conscious, spending a great deal of energy ruminating on how different they are from others, navigating feelings of self-hatred and shame, along with emptiness and despair. They may feel anxious around others, always wondering what they think about them, perpetually seeing their weakness and never their glory.

Beyond their internal strife, Type Fours can get into relational conflicts by being moody, emotionally demanding, withholding, dramatic, and volatile, causing them to appear self-absorbed and disinterested in others.

However, when the longings of their heart are taken to Christ, Type Fours are able to step out from under the waterfall of their emotions and bring forth their gifts in ways that are truly extraordinary. They have a deep intuition into others’ suffering and can shoulder their deep pains and emotions without being overwhelmed. In fact, it brings them great joy to connect with others on a deep level and to support them in their pain, which is an amazing gift to the world.


Type Fours feel and believe they are tragically flawed and others possess qualities they lack. This belief leads to shameful feelings of inferiority and envy. Comparison further isolates them and makes them feel like they are misunderstood and do not belong. This puts them on a never-ending journey to find what they are missing inside, in hopes to be understood by others and loved for being their unique and special self.

Healthy Self-Image

I am different, sensitive, unique, self-aware, intuitive, emotional, creative, and honest with myself.

Key Motivations

Type Fours want to be authentic and unique, to express themselves, to create something beautiful, to connect with people who let them be themselves, and to take care of emotional needs before doing anything else.

Fours Do Not Want

Type Fours don’t want to restrain or lose touch with their emotions. They don’t want to feel average, ordinary or unseen, or to have their taste or individuality questioned. They don’t want to spend time with people who don’t value beauty or have emotional depth.

Type 5: The Investigative Thinker

Type Fives are perceptive and innovative observers who walk through life with a curiosity and craving to learn new things. Their inquisitive mind is able to be objective and practical, making wise decisions based on reason and knowledge.  

Despite their insatiable thirst for thinking and knowing, they experience the world as an intrusive and overwhelming place. Feeling that life demands too much of them, they focus their attention on conserving their energy and resources to avoid a sense of catastrophic depletion. This intense desire to hoard and control their environment can damage their relationships as they can become extremely private and emotionally distant.

When they attempt to navigate life apart from Christ, Type Fives’ fear of not knowing or being enough, coupled with their desire for self-sufficiency, and avoidance of relying on others can cause them to withdraw, isolate, and be emotionally distant. They often feel that they must know everything before sharing their insights and fear feeling incompetent, which overwhelms them and causes them to retreat.

This desire for knowledge, independence, and a life free from obligations can strain their relationships since connection, feelings and vulnerability are natural components to a healthy partnership. They see the demands of living in relationship with others, but they distance themselves because they feel ill-equipped to meet them. They think confidence to engage with others will come, but they’ll never feel they have enough knowledge or resources to enter into the mysterious and complex world of another person.

Fortunately, when their heart is in line with the Gospel, Type Fives discover that their needs are not a problem and are fulfilled in Christ, and they can begin to be more generous with giving of themselves. They begin living not just from their head, but their heart and the whole of who they are. That gift, coupled with their great vision and perspective, reflects the true wisdom of God.


Type Fives think the more knowledge they can obtain, the more security and independence they will experience. They desire this because they perceive the world and people as intrusive, overwhelming and draining of their already-limited energy reserves. To preserve their resources, they withdraw from people and detach from their emotions until they can recharge alone. They may have a special private location where they can recharge and process their thoughts and feelings. Without solitude, they fear they will experience catastrophic depletion. Establishing and maintaining boundaries is important to them and their well being.

Healthy Self-Image

I am intuitive, perceptive, curious, observant, self-contained, insightful, unusual, and always alert.

Key Motivations

Type Fives want to be capable and competent, to master a body of knowledge and skill, to explore, to remain undisturbed by others, and to reduce their reliance on others.

Fives Do Not Want

Type Fives do not want to have social or emotional obligations placed on them, for fear of depletion. They don’t want to be surprised, share their secrets, or be forced to interact beyond what their limited energy reserves will allow.  

Type 6: The Loyal Guardian

Type Sixes are some of the most reliable, hard working, dutiful and steady people out there. Their dependability, sense of humor, ability to foresee problems, and fierce loyalty cause them to be incredible team players, hold groups together, and benefit the common good.

However, they are often plagued with a constant internal fear and uncertainty, experiencing the world as a dangerous place where they must be hyper-vigilant, scanning for things that could threaten their safety, security, and relationships. Whether they do this to avoid danger or challenge it head on, they can be prone to see and assume the worst and manage their anxiety by preemptively running through and preventing potential problems and negative outcomes. Inside their mind is a nagging voice constantly asking, “but what about this?”

When they forget the truth of the Gospel, Type Sixes are plagued with uncertainty, self doubt, worry, and catastrophic thinking, leaving them feeling anxious and unable to relax and trust themselves and others. Their mind can become muddled, hesitant to make decisions and skeptical. They will focus on planning for and controlling catastrophes in their attempt to live in a world that is trouble-free and predictable.

In relationships Type Sixes may struggle with projecting their fears, doubts, and insecurities onto others as a means to protect themselves. These misplaced fears, suspicions and doubts often erode their trust in God, others and even themselves.

However, when their heart is aligned with the Gospel and they learn to take their fears and anxiety to Christ, they experience a transformation that brings forth great courage. They can rest and trust knowing they are secure in Him, and experience a peace that surpasses the fears they see in the world around them.


Type Sixes believe the world is a dangerous place and that most people have hidden agendas. They constantly predict and plan for all possible outcomes (especially worst-case scenarios), so they can prevent potential harm from occurring. They believe that if they can rehearse in their mind what might happen and develop strategies to stop negative circumstances, they can keep themselves and others safe and secure.

Healthy Self-Image

I am dutiful, reliable, dependable, responsible, and trustworthy.

Key Motivations

Type Sixes seek security and certainty. They want support and guidance, so they will defend their beliefs and test others’ attitudes toward them.

Sixes Do Not Want

Type Sixes don’t want to feel unsafe, insecure, uncertain or abandoned. They don’t want to be pressured to do something that will get them in trouble, to be forced to accept new ideas quickly, or to have their beliefs questioned by an outsider.

Type 7: The Entertaining Optimist

Type Sevens are a joyful, enthusiastic and social people that radiate optimism in all situations. As lovers of variety, they live life big and are eager to enjoy all the new experiences that this world has to offer. They see endless possibilities and innovation all around them.

While they radiate positivity and happiness, internally they are always longing for more and fearful of missing out. To them, life is like cotton candy, super sweet to the taste, but it disappears quickly and they’re constantly unsatisfied, wanting more. When life is hard, they experience a deep internal struggle in their attempt to avoid pain at all costs. When life gets complicated, painful, sad, or boring, they quickly escape to things that bring them pleasure allowing them to avoid the difficult feelings they fear.

The cost to themselves as they pursue their need for adventure, happiness and stimulating experiences is the inability to enjoy the present and feel satisfied with what they already have. They may keep themselves extremely busy in order to avoid dealing with internal anxieties, sorrow and boredom. Putting painful things out of their awareness, or reframing suffering into something positive without truly dealing with it will always show up in counterproductive ways throughout their lives.

Type Sevens can also struggle in relationships, becoming scattered, uncommitted, and unreliable. People close to them may get frustrated when they feel they value new experiences and things more than them. Their tendencies can hinder emotional depth, which often involves walking through challenging emotions and pain together.

However, when their heart is aligned with the Gospel, Type Sevens become more grounded in the present moment and able to savor it with a grateful heart. Trusting that God will fulfill their internal longings, more receptive and thoughtful qualities emerge. When they combine this with their natural creativity and energy, they’ll inspire others as they walk through both the highs and lows of life.


Type Sevens resist anything that resembles pain, sadness, grief, boredom, negativity, anxiety, or emptiness as they believe these feelings may bring they great harm. Therefore, they have perfected the art of escaping these experiences by focusing on and pursuing anything that is new, fun, exciting, entertaining, stimulating, and fills them up inside with complete satisfaction.

Healthy Self-Image

I am happy, spontaneous, enthusiastic, free-spirited, optimistic, and energetic.

Key Motivations

Type Sevens want to have fun and fill themselves up by enjoying a wide variety of experiences. They want to keep their options open, enjoy life to the fullest and escape all internal pain and anxiety.

Sevens Do Not Want

Type Sevens avoid boredom, suffering and being tied down by emotional pain. They don’t want to be forced to experience their own fear, grief or suffering, to miss out on anything fun, or to feel inferior.

Type 8: The Protective Challenger

Type Eights engage life with a confident intensity, strength and a determination to make things happen. Their decisive and assertive leadership style causes them to be powerful change agents in the world, especially when seeking justice and protection for others.

However, in our world of sin and injustice where people are taken advantage of, they feel an intense need to protect themselves against betrayal and powerlessness by always having an invincible exterior and minimizing any personal vulnerability.

Their fear of weakness and vulnerability, joined with their thirst for control, power and justice, apart from Christ, can lead them to be too blunt, confrontational, insensitive, domineering, cynical, and even vengeful. Their attempt to provide protection for themselves by living with a thick steel over their hearts because of the tenderness in their heart. Underneath their outward strength is a major fear of betrayal. While other Types fear people and become passive, Eights fear people and become aggressive. Their personality says, “I’ll control them before they can control me.”

Inevitably, this self-protection ends up doing more harm than good. To protect themselves they will live in denial, suppressing any emotions that cause them to feel vulnerable, out of control or exposed, living as though they never existed.

In relationship with others, Type Eights can end up sacrificing intimacy so that their weaknesses can’t be discovered and used against them. Denying themselves closeness and tenderness with others as well as the giving or receiving of forgiveness leaves them feeling incomplete, missing out on the intimacy and support for which they were created.

When Type Eights’ hearts surrender their fear of betrayal, and rely on Christ, they can relinquish their need for control and allow people to see an endearing vulnerability and compassionate strength. From that place they can better protect the innocent from injustice, empower others, and put their strength of leadership to use for the greater good.


Eights do not want to be controlled, harmed, or for others to have any power over them (physical, emotional, or financial). Their highest priority is protecting themselves and those closest to them from being blindsided, controlled, harmed, betrayed, and at the mercy of injustice. They do this by putting on a very intimidating, strong and protective armor that is powerful and controlling. Unfortunately it inhibits others from seeing their very tender heart. They also don’t back down when they desire something, and can persuasively convince others to give them what they want.

Healthy Self-Image

I am outspoken, direct, opinionated, bold, decisive, tough, and compassionate.

Key Motivations

Type Eights seek to have an impact on the world and to stay in control. They want to be self-reliant, to assert themselves, to prevail over others, and to be invincible.

Eights Do Not Want

Type Eights avoid feeling out of control, unsupported, vulnerable or weak. They don’t want their decisions or authority questioned, to be humiliated, or to be surprised by others’ unexpected actions.

Type 9: The Peaceful Mediator

Type Nines are easy going, non-judgmental, and patient people who long for harmony with others and in their environments. Able to see all points of view, they are natural peacemakers and agents of reconciliation who bring a sense of calm and empathy wherever they go.  

But these seemingly relaxed people struggle internally in a world rife with conflict and things that threaten the comfort they crave. Believing it is their responsibility to ensure that people experience peace and that everyone is respected and heard, they manage the stress they feel by withdrawing or numbing their feelings, dreams and desires. They “go along to get along” to avoid the internal or external conflict they feel.

When trying to satisfy their longing for harmony, connection, and comfort apart from Christ, Type Nines can become conflict avoidant, indecisive, passive, easily overwhelmed and numb to their lives.

Internally, Type Nines struggle to believe that their voice and opinions matter and become self-forgetting and self-belittling. Focussing too much on others, they lose their identity, merging with the thoughts, feelings, and agendas of others to achieve a false harmony. They fall asleep to themselves, yet often have an internal frustration about being overlooked by others.

Their attempts for harmony eventually backfire in relationships when the people around them get frustrated by their passivity, stubbornness, unwillingness to be bothered, emotional unavailability, complacency, and passive-aggressive responses, resulting in the conflict they desperately want to avoid.

However, when a Nine’s heart is in line with the Gospel, they come awake to their convictions, feelings and passions, and believe that they matter and can make a difference in this world. From that place they also realize the true peace comes from entering into conflict not avoiding it, and they become more genuinely engaged with people and their own lives, able to bridge differences, bring people together, and achieve true harmony.


Type Nines are very warm, loving, caring, and focused on others. They struggle with inertia and most of the time they are not moving in their own right action, but instead merging with other people’s passions, desires, and callings. They fundamentally believe that their presence, opinions, priorities, desires, and life do not matter much to others and the world and they should not assert themselves or promote themselves, so they decided to blend in or stay in the background. They easily see everyone’s point of view and accommodate others to keep harmony in relationships and inner peace of mind. Their growth path is to find their own passion and calling, and move in that direction with boldness and confidence.

Healthy Self-Image

I am kind, content, peaceful, relaxed, steady, gentle, easygoing, and friendly.

Key Motivations

Type Nines strive for peace of mind, environmental harmony and inner serenity. They want to preserve things as they are, to avoid conflicts and tension, to escape unpleasantness, and avoid demands being placed on them.

Nines Do Not Want

Type Nines avoid the spotlight as well as conflict, tension, or separation from others. They don’t want to feel out of connection or overlooked.They don’t like feelings of anger or being upset or disturbed, to have their habits or routines interrupted, to be emotionally uncomfortable, or forced to face unpleasant realities.


The Enneagram is the most powerful and effective when we view it through the lens of the Gospel. When we’re not resting in our true identities in Christ, our sins, struggles and shortcomings lead us to think, feel, and behave in particular ways that harm ourselves and others. But because of God’s grace, we can ask the Holy Spirit to help us navigate our internal worlds, lead us back to a healthy path, and love people of every Type well. God is always faithful to provide what we need to experience transformation and freedom in our lives, no matter our current circumstances. As the Gospel penetrates our hearts, we can find peace and rest, despite any of life’s burdens or trials.

Are you ready to dig deeper into the Enneagram for lasting transformation? Do you want to learn how to change the patterns you’ve been stuck in and how to steer yourself in a healthier direction? My 3-step online courses can help! I also offer private coaching for individuals, families and teams.

Learn More Here.

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