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Breaking Down the Enneagram

education enneagram Jan 06, 2019

Hi, Friends. It’s Your Enneagram Coach Beth, back to give you a simple overview of the Enneagram. If you or someone you know could benefit from learning more about this simple map for self-discovery and growth (Hint: We can all benefit!), this will be a great place to start.

The Enneagram (Ennea=9, Gram=Diagram) outlines nine basic Personality Types that clearly describes why each of us thinks, feels and behaves in particular ways based on our core fears and desires. This powerful tool can help us harness and transform self-limiting behaviors into life-enhancing personal empowerment. It can also help us create and sustain meaningful healthy relationships with God, others and ourselves.

Discover Your Enneagram Type

Identifying your Enneagram type is the exciting first step to uncovering the power of the Enneagram as a tool for becoming your best self. You can take our free assessment here.  

All Types operate in us to some degree, but there’s one we use the most to deal with life’s challenges. This type is called our “Main Type.” Following the name of each Type below are four descriptive words. These words begin with the one that describes a person at their healthiest, and the fourth word represents a type when a person is not doing well. Think of it as a scale from healthy to unhealthy. This unhealthy behavior happens when we rely on ourselves and turn away from knowing who we are in Christ. The Enneagram reflects the current condition of our heart, revealing if it’s in or out of line with the truth of the Gospel.  

The Enneagram helps us know if we’re drifting from the Gospel so we can confess and return to our best path in becoming more like Christ. To discover your main Type, find the Core Fear, Core Desire, Core Weakness and Core Longing (The message your heart longs to hear) you relate to most.

 Type 1: The Moral Perfectionist is principled, purposeful, self-controlled and perfectionistic.

Core Fear: Being wrong, bad, evil, inappropriate, unredeemable, or corruptible
Core Desire: Having integrity, being good, balanced, accurate, virtuous, and right
Core Weakness: Resentment—repressing anger that leads to continual frustration and dissatisfaction with yourself, others, and the world for not being perfect.
Core Longing: “You are good.” 

Type 2: The Supportive Advisor is generous, demonstrative, people pleasing and possessive.

Core Fear: Being rejected and unwanted, being thought worthless, needy, inconsequential, dispensable, or unworthy of love.
Core Desire: Being appreciated, loved, and wanted.
Core Weakness: Pride —denying your own needs and emotions while using your amazing intuition to discover and focus on the emotions and needs of others, confidently inserting your helpful support in hopes that others will say how grateful they are for your thoughtful care.
Core Longing: “You are wanted and loved.” 

Type 3: The Successful Achiever is adaptable, excelling, driven and image-conscious.

Core Fear: Being exposed as or thought incompetent, inefficient, or worthless; failing to be or appear successful
Core Desire: Having high status and respect, being admired, successful, and valuable
Core Weakness: Deceit —deceiving yourself into believing that you are only the image you present to others; embellishing the truth by putting on a polished persona for everyone (including yourself) to see and admire.
Core Longing: “You are loved for simply being you."

Type 4: The Romantic Individualist is expressive, dramatic, self-absorbed and temperamental.

Core Fear: Being inadequate, emotionally cut off, plain, mundane, defective, flawed, or insignificant
Core Desire: Being unique, special, and authentic
Core Weakness: Envy—feeling that you’re tragically flawed, something foundational is missing inside you, and others possess qualities you lack.
Core Longing: “You are seen and loved for exactly who you are—special and unique.” 

Type 5: The Investigative Thinker is perceptive, innovative, secretive and isolated.

Core Fear: Being annihilated, invaded, or not existing; being thought incapable or ignorant; having obligations placed upon you or your energy depleted
Core Desire: Being capable and competent
Core Weakness: Avarice—feeling that you lack inner resources and that too much interaction with others will lead to catastrophic depletion; withholding yourself from contact with the world; holding onto your resources and minimizing your needs.
Core Longing: “Your needs are not a problem.”

Type 6: The Loyal Guardian is engaging, responsible, anxious and suspicious.

Core Fear: Feeling fear itself, being without support, security, or guidance; being blamed, targeted, alone, or physically abandoned
Core Desire: Having security, guidance, and support
Core Weakness: Anxiety—scanning the horizon of life and trying to predict and prevent negative outcomes (especially worst-case scenarios); remaining in a constant state of apprehension and worry.
Core Longing: “You are safe.”

Type 7: The Entertaining Optimist is spontaneous, versatile, acquisitive and scattered.

Core Fear: Being deprived, trapped in emotional pain, limited, or bored; missing out on something fun
Core Desire: Being happy, fully satisfied, and content
Core Weakness: Gluttony—feeling a great emptiness inside and having an insatiable desire to “fill yourself up” with experiences and stimulation in hopes of feeling completely satisfied and content.
Core Longing: “You will be taken care of.”

Type 8: The Protective Challenger is self-confident, decisive, willful and confrontational.

Core Fear: Being weak, powerless, harmed, controlled, vulnerable, manipulated, and left at the mercy of injustice
Core Desire: Protecting yourself and those in your inner circle
Core Weakness: Lust/Excess—constantly desiring intensity, control, and power; pushing yourself willfully on life and people in order to get what you desire.
Core Longing: “You will not be betrayed.”

Type 9: The Peaceful Mediator is receptive, reassuring, complacent and resigned.

Core Fear: Being in conflict, tension, or discord; feeling shut out and overlooked; losing connection with others.
Core Desire: Having inner stability and peace of mind.
Core Weakness: Sloth—remaining in an unrealistic and idealistic world in order to keep the peace, remain easy-going, and not be disturbed by your anger; falling asleep to your passions, abilities, desires, needs, and worth by merging with others.
Core Longing: “Your presence matters." 

Exploring the Enneagram Symbol



Everyone is a blend of their main Type and the two Types adjacent to it. You use both types to some degree, and each number brings a unique “flavor” to your personality. However, the Type we gravitate to most is called our “Wing.” You may hear people say they’re a Type 9 with an 8 wing. Knowing which type your wing is can help you understand your whole personality.

The Lines

Each Type is connected to the two other Types by two lines. Our personality can move across these lines to shift in perspective and experience a new way of looking at the world (to some degree). We stay our main Type but can access the healthy, average and unhealthy attributes of those two Types. This helps us know when we’re in line or out of line with the truth of the Gospel.

Harnessing the Enneagram for Personal Growth

The Enneagram shows us when our main personality Type is healthy (resting in our identity in Christ), average (living in our own  strength) or unhealthy (living as if we’re still an orphan). Each personality will look different at each level of development, but the internal structure (Core Fears, Core Desire and Core Weakness) remains the same. Knowing where we are on these levels lets us know how our heart is doing.

The more we move down the levels (wandering away from our Good Shepherd), the more identified we become with our personality and its increasingly restrictive and negative patterns. In contrast, the more we rest in our identity in Christ, the more we are “awake” to ourselves and can ask the Holy Spirit for a healthier path. Understanding and using the Enneagram symbol is the key to knowing ourselves on a deeper level. We can surrender and depend on God to become more like Christ.

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.

For more Gospel-centered insights on The Enneagram, follow us on Instagram @yourenneagramcoach

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